Hashtag Sports | Programming Track Descriptions

Track Descriptions

Hashtag Sports shines an industry-wide spotlight on companies delivering thought leadership and solutions to the evolving sports innovation ecosystem.

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Fan Engagement

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Instant gratification is the new norm.

Attention spans are shortening and fans are being oversaturated with alternative viewing and consumption experiences on game day. The Sacramento Kings built what has been billed the Tesla of sports stadiums to battle fans' desire to remain on the couch instead of in the stands.

In order to maintain interest, modern fans must be fed access to their favorite teams and leagues on a 24/7/365 basis. When game day finally rolls around, whether in the stadium or at home, the connected fan expects it to be seamless.

In-venue technology and other streamlined solutions are eliminating pain points, while mobile communication and data capture are allowing for new ways to personalize sponsor integration.

In sports marketing, it’s all done in the name of (fan) love.

Join the Fan Engagement track at Hashtag Sports 2017 for an in-depth look at how technology is changing the way sports are consumed and experienced.

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Esports & Gaming

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The dictionary has been amended, the people have spoken through an official White House petition, and the bandwagon is full of big brands including Budweiser and Coca-Cola. eSports may be the new kid on the block, but with an expected market value of $1.9 billion by 2018, competitive gaming is set to redefine the sports landscape for viewers and advertisers.

Traditional sports and eSports are converging at a rapid pace as evidenced by the success of Turner’s ELeague, ESPN’s aspirations to become the worldwide leader in eSports, and the many professional sports clubs signing eSports players. Ignore eSports at your own risk—the space is set to explode.

Get on board before the boom, and join Hashtag Sports 2017 for the Esports & Gaming track intended to break down the barriers to entry for marketers and media companies interested in reaching the heavily-coveted Gen-Z & Millennial male audience.

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Content & Distribution

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Not even the sports industry is immune to the Netflix effect.

With the cable bubble on the verge of bursting, advertisers are in a race to keep up with the latest content platforms. Mobile applications are quarterbacking an era where video is king and the phrases “second-screening” and “cord-cutting” are old hat.

Expected to be a $31.5 billion industry by 2019, OTT is challenging TV’s role as the OG, further exhibited by the success of WWE and UFC in launching their own subscription service and Disney’s massive investment in MLBAM.

Lights. Camera. Livestream. In addition to over-the-top services, social networks have become broadcast networks. Facebook Live is en fuego with teams, marketers, and athletes while the world’s biggest league spent the season tangoing with Twitter.

Join the Content & Distribution track at Hashtag Sports 2017 for a discussion on the rapid evolution of content and consumption habits in a mobile-first, multi-platform world.

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Transformational Analytics

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With the sports media bubble on the brink of a transformative burst, fans and brands alike are relying on number crunching in crunch time.

Analytics are now pervasive in sports as every emerging technology relies upon data to bring fans closer to the action and take data-driven decision-making to new heights.

Microsoft is utilizing artificial intelligence, IoT, and bots to analyze fan behavior and better customize experiences that are transforming sports viewing, ESPN has a digital media property dedicated entirely to analytical prediction, and Under Armour is investing heavily in data to merge the gap between athletic apparel and apps.

Join the Transformational Analytics track at Hashtag Sports 2017 as we examine the ways in which data powers and inspires new viewing experiences that make fans a part of the game.

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Sponsorship in sport is ubiquitous. With the help of modern technology, brands are integrating themselves into the game and conversation in ways never before imagined.

From branded content and hashtags to jersey ad patches and sponsored app integrations, advertiser involvement has gone way beyond the simple days of stadium naming rights and player endorsements and the ability to effectively measure and monetize digital impressions is critical.

Mobile devices have created more targeted and measurable activation opportunities, giving way to advertising entering an entirely new era. The Rio Olympics got real with the introduction of real-time, personalized social ads while big brands like Under Armour shifted their budgets from TV-dominant ad allotments to 50-50 splits with digital.

However, digital media has also given rise to a plethora of challenges, including the struggle to stay relevant as conversations explode online and to protect against ambush marketing tactics on social channels.

Join the Sponsorship & Advertising track at Hashtag Sports 2017 for a discussion on the challenges and opportunities presented by brand’s increased access to fans.

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Athletes & Creators

Jay-Z says it best: “I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man.” Armed with an iPhone and an audience, anybody can be their own media brand in today’s tech-savvy and socially-driven society.

While big-name athletes have always enjoyed celebrity status, athletes from niche sports are now able to share the spotlight thanks to the proliferation of social and digital media. In addition, the definition of influencer marketing has evolved to include everyday people who now have the ability to create and activate around sports content and amass highly targeted audiences.

The reach of many top athletes and social influencers now bests, or at the very least rivals, that of prime time television. Couple this phenomenon with a dramatic rise in the number of media outlets producing and/or publishing content, and it is no surprise that brands are shifting their marketing spend to digital and social.

Join us for the Athletes & Creators track at Hashtag Sports 2017 as we flip the script and allow talent and brands to share their secret sauce with the world.

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Investment & Startups

Show me the money.

With investors betting hard on digital’s ability to disrupt, more money than ever is being funneled into the sports economy.

VC investment in sports tech and digital media startups surpassed $1 billion in 2014, thanks in part to the explosion of daily fantasy sports, an industry that can attribute both its success and scrutiny to the soon-to-be-merged DraftKings and FanDuel.

Startups, both big and small, are getting their game on and catching the eye of major venture capital funds that traditionally operated in less sexy sectors but are now looking to plant seeds (and seed rounds) in sports.

As concerns about risks on the field increase simultaneously with the attractiveness of returns off the field, athletes and sports personalities are putting less money in their piggy banks and more money into potential unicorns.

Join the Investment & Startups track at Hashtag Sports 2017 for a deep dive into the state of entrepreneurship and investment in sports.

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Social Good

Nelson Mandela believed sport has the power to change the world. Never has this maxim been more true than in the age of the instant megaphone, social media. Sports is unrivaled in its cultural influence and ability to impact positive change.

Both online and offline, sport serves as the universal language, allowing us to break barriers, band together, and promote positivity on a global scale.

As teams gain a stronger foothold within their communities and player platforms grow larger in scope, the athlete activist has reemerged as a societal superhero. In addition, philanthropy has evolved hand-in-hand with technology, giving rise to new ways for fans to contribute to larger movements.

Join Hashtag Sports 2017’s Social Good track as we champion the power of sport to make positive change in communities across the globe--and society at large.

VR / AR / MR

Mark Cuban is bullish on virtual reality which probably means that you should be too. Forecast to hit $120 billion by 2020, augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality are expected to have the Midas Touch, as every aspect of sports innovation, from content production and consumption to performance training, is turned to virtual gold.

Jocks are now sporting virtual headsets to augment real-world workouts in the hopes to win everything from the World Series to the Heisman Trophy. Meanwhile, with the backing of some of the biggest names in media and tech, including Disney, Microsoft, and Time Warner, the front-row experience is being redefined as fans and brands line up to sneak a peek at some of the world’s biggest sporting events up-close and in 360-degrees.

Join Hashtag Sports 2017 for our Augmented, Virtual & Mixed Reality track to consider the potential for VR/AR to usher in a renaissance and reinvent the sports experience as we know it.