North American basketball league the NBA has forged a sports and entertainment partnership with Intel Capital, while the strategic investment and mergers and acquisitions organisation of the US technology giant has invested in technology firm VenueNext.
The partnerships were announced at the Intel Capital Global Summit held in Palm Springs, California yesterday (Tuesday). The multi-year partnership between the NBA and Intel Capital will lead to the formation of the NBA + Intel Capital Emerging Technology Initiative, which will seek to foster the identification, development and growth of technology companies that have the potential to impact the future of the NBA, as well as the wider sports and entertainment markets.
The initiative aims to identify new technologies from global companies at all stages, but particularly US-based startups that the NBA and Intel Capital will evaluate for potential partnership and investment opportunities.
Among the companies that the NBA and Intel Capital will assess will be those with new technology solutions that can enhance the NBA game on the court, the overall fan experience and the sports industry worldwide. In addition, the NBA and Intel Capital will provide mentorship, strategic planning and business development support for the selected companies.
“Venture investments in sports reached $1.5bn (€1.24bn) in 2017, and the next five years in sports will be defined by even more technology disruption,” Wendell Brooks, senior vice-president of Intel Corporation and president of Intel Capital, said. “With this new initiative, the NBA and Intel Capital aim to bring extensive human and technology resources into companies we believe will lead the next wave of transformation in sports and entertainment.”
The NBA and Intel are building off a multi-year technology partnership announced last year, which made Intel an authorised provider of virtual reality with Intel True VR and of 360-degree volumetric video with Intel True View for official NBA broadcast partners globally. Additionally, last month Intel became a founding partner of the new NBA 2K League esports competition.
“We look forward to tapping into Intel Capital’s infrastructure and 27-year track record of identifying successful startups,” Amy Brooks, president of team marketing and business operations and chief innovation officer at the NBA, added. “Together, we will identify and support the next generation of innovative sports and entertainment technology companies to find and develop new ways to enhance the game on the court and the fan experience.”
At the Global Summit, Intel Capital also unveiled new investments totalling more than $70m in 12 technology startups, bringing Intel Capital’s year-to-date investments to more than $115m. These 12 startups include VenueNext, a Santa Clara-based firm that is seeking to transform the way guests experience every kind of venue, including sports stadia and arenas.
As part of the investment and business strategy, the Intel Sports Group and the Intel Retail Solutions Division will work with VenueNext to integrate its technologies to further transform the mobile guest experience at venues and stadia throughout the US.
In a statement, VenueNext said: “VenueNext’s connected venue mobile platform connects a facility’s siloed operational systems to give guests seamless access to services via their smartphones, dramatically improving the fan experience at a venue, from ordering food and merchandise to watching replays and upgrading, buying or selling tickets, all in a single app on a smartphone. Now, together with Intel, we will provide even more immersive ways to engage with the biggest moments on the field from the comfort of their seat.”
VenueNext said the two parties’ first mobile integration will deliver the Intel True View 5K immersive experience for NFL American football fans at Levi’s Stadium and U.S. Bank Stadium, homes of the San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings, respectively.