Tech could soon take over all of the sports you watch – Ben Shields

MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields

From Fortune

The sports industry is engaged in a grand digital experiment with technology platforms. The latest test was announced last week, when the National Football League (NFL) sold its 10-game Thursday Night Football digital package to Amazon. As when Twitter held it last year, the games will be simulcast on network (CBS or NBC) and cable (NFL Network) television. However, unlike the free access Twitter offered, only Amazon Prime members will be able to watch Thursday night games this year. Given Prime’s non-exclusivity and pay wall, if Thursday Night Football on Amazon leads to increases in year-over-year viewership and contributes to the growth of Prime subscribers, the NFL and Amazon executives could call it a win.

As encouraging as that result would be, this experiment is really about the early 2020s, which is when the NFL will be making major decisions about distributors for its most valuable rights packages. How can tech companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, Netflix, and Twitter become big rights winners at that point? And what can traditional broadcasters do now to avoid being left behind? This long-term sports rights game will be won through reach and revenue.

When sports leagues sell their live distribution rights, they want to maximize both reach and revenue. If technology companies can help leagues achieve these goals more effectively than their existing television partners, the sports media landscape will look dramatically different a decade from now.

Tech firms must prove their reach

There’s never been any doubt as to whether technology companies have the resources to invest in sports rights. The question has been whether such moves made long-term strategic sense for both parties. As technology platforms launch and grow competitive video businesses, they are beginning to put to rest concerns about their suitability as distribution partners, as they now have clear incentives to make rights deals successful over the long term.

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Mark Cuban and Nate Silver talk technology, analytics, sports and more

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver spoke last weekend at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, covering a wide range of topics. Watch a video excerpt from their conversation:

Read the full interview at FiveThirtyEight or more about the MIT Sloan’s 11th Annual Sports Analytics conference.

Israeli model holds the answers to China’s quest for technology and innovation — Yasheng Huang

MIT Sloan Prof. Yasheng Huang

MIT Sloan Prof. Yasheng Huang

From South China Morning Post

It is widely understood that China needs to move from an investment-intensive growth model to one based on science, technology and innovation. But before I take up this subject, let me take a detour to tell a tale of two countries.

Both countries are small. One has a population of 5.5 million people; the other has a population of 8 million. In both countries, the dominant ethnic group is about 75 per cent of the population and minority groups make up the rest.

Both countries are rich. One country has a per capita gross domestic product of US$52,000 and the other country has a per capita GDP of US$35,000.

Both countries have faced existential security threats from the outside and armies in both countries have mandatory conscriptions. One country was actually kicked out and evicted by its now much larger neighbour, because the union would have threatened the political dominance of the main ethnic group. The second country is located in a region surrounded by hostile nations.

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Opinion: How big banks can stop FinTech upstarts from getting your money – Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

From MarketWatch

A high-stakes competition is underway between traditional financial services institutions and disruptive FinTech startups.

The Economist reports that more than $25 billion has been invested in financial technology — FinTech — in the last five years, with 4,000 firms challenging banks in just about every product line.  As financial services comprise about $1.2 trillion of U.S. GDP, increased levels of investment are likely.

Big banks have the advantage in this fight — at the moment. These institutions have well-earned reputations for safety and security. They benefit from strong, multi-generational customer relationships, have considerable brand equity, and offer myriad financial products and services.

Except well-funded, agile FinTech startups including SoFi, Billguard, Square, Wealthfront, Venmo and Neighborly are innovating and nibbling away at banks’ market share. They’re doing this by offering custom solutions for everything from student-loan refinancing and payment processing to lending and facilitating neighborhood investment.

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Robots are moving in to our homes, but there’s no killer app – Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

From The Conversation

Not too long ago, robots were giant, caged things, mainly found in automotive manufacturing lines. Social robotics was a new field of research pursued by the best and brightest in university research labs.

In the past few years, however, it seems that social robots have finally come of age. All of a sudden, the market is teeming with products. Some are distinctly humanoid.

The rise of social robots

Softbank Robotics’ Nao, Pepper and Romeo all have a head and two arms. With their stylised designs, they deftly avoid the “uncanny valley” of human-machine interfaces (realistic enough to look human, but non-human enough to look spooky).

Others are more subdued in their anthropomorphism. Blue Frog Robotics’ Buddy sports an animated face on a screen, and scoots around on wheels. Jibo is yet more subtle in its ability to evoke humanity, with its stationary base and a head that can turn and nod.

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