Comcast launches SportsTech startup accelerator with NASCAR and others

Comcast NBCUniversal believes its can entry startup innovation whereas supporting future Olympic gold-medalists.

The American mass media firm launched its new SportsTech accelerator in the present day, primarily based partly, on that impetus.

TechCrunch attended a briefing with Comcast execs at 30 Rock NYC to study extra concerning the initiative.

The SportsTech accelerator is a partnership throughout Comcast NBCUniversal’s sports activities media manufacturers: NBC Sports activities, Sky Sports activities and the Golf Channel.

This system brings in trade companions NASCAR, U.S. Ski & Snowboard and USA Swimming — all of whose sports activities broadcast on Comcast NBC channels.

Beginning in the present day, pre-Collection A sports activities know-how startups can apply to turn into a part of a 10-company cohort.

Accepted ventures will acquire $50,000 in equity-based funding and enter SportsTech’s three-month accelerator boot camp — with sports activities trade help and mentorship — to kick off at Comcast’s Atlanta places of work August 2020.

Boomtown Accelerators will be part of Comcast in managing the SportsTech program, with each sharing a minimal of 6% fairness in chosen startups.

Business companions, comparable to NASCAR and U.S. Ski & Snowboard, will play an advisory position in startup choice, however received’t add capital.

An overarching goal for SportsTech emerged throughout conversations with execs and Jenna Kurath, Comcast’s VP for Startup Accomplice Growth, who will run the brand new accelerator.

Comcast and companions goal to entry innovation that would advance the enterprise and aggressive elements of every group.

From McDonald’s McD Tech Labs to Mastercard’s Begin Path, company incubators and accelerators have turn into frequent in massive cap America, the place corporations look to faucet startup ingenuity and deal-flow to adapt and hedge disruption.

Towards its personal targets, SportsTech has designated a number of most popular startup classes. They embrace Enterprise of Sports activities, Crew and Coach Success and Athlete and Participant Efficiency.

SportsTech companions, comparable to NASCAR, hope to entry innovation to drive better viewers engagement. The motorsport collection (and its advertising-base) has turn into extra device-distributed, and NASCAR streams extra race-day information reside, from the pits to the motive force’s seat.

“The main focus has grown into what are we going to do to introduce extra know-how within the competitors aspect of the game…the fan expertise aspect and the way we function as a enterprise,” stated NASCAR Chief Innovation Officer Craig Neeb.

“We’re assured we’re going to get entry to some extremely sturdy and progressive corporations,” he stated of NASCAR’s SportsTech participation.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard — the nonprofit that manages America’s snowsport competitors groups  — has a watch on efficiency and medical tech for its athletes.

“Wearable know-how [to measure performance]…is an space of curiosity…and issues like pc imaginative and prescient and synthetic intelligence for us to raised perceive technical components, are fairly fascinating,” stated Troy Taylor, U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Director of Excessive Efficiency.

US Ski Team

Credit score: U.S. Ski & Snowboard

A few of that know-how might enhance prospects of U.S. athletes, comparable to alpine skiers Tommy Ford and Mikaela Shiffrin, on the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

In a $7.75 billion deal inked in 2014, Comcast NBCUniversal bought the U.S. broadcast rights for Olympic competitors —  summer time and winter —  by way of 2032.

“We requested ourselves, ‘might we do extra?’ The notion of an innovation engine that runs earlier than, throughout and after the Olympics. Might that give our Crew USA a aggressive edge of their pursuit for gold?,” stated Jenna Kurath.

The reply got here up within the affirmative and led to the formation of Comcast’s SportsTech accelerator.

Past supporting Olympic achievement, there’s a strategic enterprise motivation for Comcast and its new group.

“The early insights we acquire from these corporations might result in different industrial relationships, whether or not that’s licensing and even acquisition,” Will McIntosh, EVP for NBC Sports activities Digital and Shopper Enterprise, informed TechCrunch.

SportsTech is Comcast’s third accelerator, and the group has a VC fund, San Francisco-based Comcast Ventures — which has invested within the likes of Lyft, Vimeo and Slack and racked up 67 exits, per Crunchbase information.

After finishing the SportsTech accelerator, cohort startups might obtain series-level funding or buy gives from Comcast, its enterprise arm or trade companions, comparable to NASCAR.

“Our pure self-discipline proper now could be…to have early deliverables. However additional time, with our current companions, we’ll have conversations about who else may very well be a logical value-add to convey into this ecosystem,” stated Invoice Connors, Comcast Central Division President.

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