NEW YORK – For those attending the annual Hashtag Sports (#HS18) Conference at The Times Center in New York City, this list is brought to you as a courtesy for participating in a thought-provoking, idea-sharing, ground-breaking, podcast broadcasting, coffee sipping, and beer chugging event, Investment-hunting three-day affair which concluded today.
For those not able to attend, this lengthy column is brought to you as a public service with our strong recommendation to sign-up for the next Hashtag Sports Conference (in summer of 2019).
Back on March 2, 2017, we listed Hashtag Sports as one of the many Sports Business Conferences well worth attending. This year, the bar has been raised mightily by Hashtag’s event organizers to merit a “MUST ATTEND” level of distinction for sports business conference goers.
We recommend you gaze through the agenda and see for yourselves, as the #HS18 seminar touches on a broad range of topics, some the obligatory (Big data, eSports, Marketing to Gen Z), some mainstream (keynote by Hope Solo, Multi-Cultural marketing, Digital Storytelling), some “Showcases” like the SPORTS FRONTS, and some strictly entertaining (Welcome Party on a NYC Rooftop Bar and Hashtag Sports Comedy Hour at B/R HQ).
The highlights and words of wisdom from the presenters are plentiful if you scroll through the #HS18 Tagline or simply review @HashtagSports on your Tweet Deck or Twitter feed. But, we’ve gone one better in compiling a list of the “Best of #HS18 – The @DigSportsDesk “DIGGIES” of Hashtag Sports ’18.
*Here is our list: (CLICK HERE to add the full list to your twitter account).
First and foremost, the event organizers of @HashtagSports are Anthony Caponiti (@caponiti) and Steve Cobb (@Steve_Cobb) who deserve credit for building the conference exponentially over the past three years.
A wide selection of the Presenters (many who maintain their own twitter accounts and some that simply list their company affiliation) includes:
Tom Rogers of @WinViewGames by way of CNBC and the cable tv industry pontificated on the current and future of TV’s interactions with the new SCOTUS (USA) gambling ramifications.
Shelley Zalis is CEO of The Female Quotient and Founder, Girls’ Lounge and the mission is gender equality in the workplace for the betterment of all, who along with Stefanie Rapp B/R Chief of Staff, Sandra Lopez (@nycsf) and HEED CEO Danna Rabin (@HeedLive) spoke on transforming the workplace. Women were well representing throughout the three-day conference, including influencer matters (Stefania Pomponi – (@CleverStefania) and Nina Mandell (@NinaMandell) among many of the moderators of panels (far too many to list here but most included in the HS18 DIGGIES distribution list on twitter – be sure to click above!)
Jayme Fuller the SVP Global Partner Dev for Stats along with moderator Mike Grushin of Omnigon and Scott Bounds of Microsoft were on the data highway between your couch and the in-arena/in-stadium experience to drive the “experience,” JIMI style.
Chad Millman of Action Network, John Levy CEO of the Score in Canada and Matt Drew of the Perform Group were moderated by SBJs John Ourand for the first of many panels to come on the way mainstream media will cover sports gambling going forward after the SCOTUS ruling in the USA.
Joshua Decker (@jbdt) CEO of Tagboard was joined by Sergio Camacho of the NJ Devils, head of social Neeta Sreekanth of IGN, Jack Patterson (@Jackcpatterson) the VP of digital and social at Learfield and Greg Lalas the VP of Content at MLS for discussions on Unique Formats for Unique Audiences (although we’re always worried about the words “Unique” and “Narrative.”
Alicia Tillman (@Aliciatillman) the Global CMO of SAP was joined by Heidi Browning the CMO of the NHL, Sharon Otterman of The Garden (MSG) and moderator Ahiza Garcia (@ahiza_garcia) to delve into the innovation and tech that is gradually transforming the global fan experience.
Ryan Spoon the SVP (that’s Senior Vice President and not Scott Van Pelt) of ESPN’s Content machine was a panelist with colleagues Katie Nolan (@katienolan) and Jason Fitz (SC Snapchat host and ESPN Radio co-host Spain and Fitz) and moderator Kerry Flynn (@kerrymflynn) a marketing reporter for Digiday (@digiday). They discussed creating connections through the content they convey on social and their FT jobs (TV and Radio hosting).
In mid-Conference, some new Demos were placed into the agenda in an interesting session portraying tech plays by UScoutFor (@UScoutFor), and FootScout (@RMFootScout), an investment co-owned by Real Madrid, then Aireal (@Aireal), an augmented reality platform, and Zengalt (@ZengaltUSA) a Microsoft partner with Hololens immersive/mixed reality entertainment applications that’ll blow your mind.
Over at the Microsoft Technology Center, Max Barnett (eightythree_max), the SVP and head o0f digital for Nielsen (@nielsen) teamed up with Richie Smith (@Rsmith9) the manager of analytics and strategy in partnerships and Biz Dev for the Boston Celtics to conduct a workshop on the topic of sports sponsorships, value and realizing 40% of media value is in social media efforts relative to the online, print and TV space).
eSports was front and center on a number of occasions and first when Greg Millard veep of partnerships for Turner joined Josh Cella, the head of global partnerships for Activision/Blizzard and Paul Brewer, the SVP brand partnerships of ESL Gaming and Stuart Lipson, the Exec Director of the eSports Ad Bureau to dig into the growing and fascinating business world of gaming.
Several athletes stepped up on stage at Hashtag Sports, including a keynote by USA World Cup goalkeeper Hope Solo (@hopesolo) along with former Philadelphia Phillies 1B Ryan Howard (@ryanhoward) and former NFLer Victor Cruz (@teamvic) were on hand.
Former Duke and NBA point guard Jay Williams joined two-time NHL Stanley Cup winner Daniel Carcillo (@CarBombBoom13) – nice handle, eh? – repping The Players Tribune at the Hashtag Sports “SportsFronts” on Wednesday. And, there were a smattering of current and former players in attendance throughout the conference with Ryan Mundy (@RyanGMundy) appearing on an Investment in Sports panel on the final day.
Mark Shuken, the President of the Pac-12 network and Marc Horine, GM Copa90 (@COPA90US) shined at a presentation on building audiences through their multi-platform partnerships in sports, a wide array for the PAC12 but soccer specific for COPA 90. Craig Kierce, the head of US Operations of 24/i rounded out the panel.
The Gen Z crowd focus was discussed by way of Terence Burke SVP of research and editor in chief of Kids Say (@kidsay) who teamed up with Civic Cultural Insights SVP Sarah Unger and Motivate’s Gregg Witt for insights and media partnerships for reaching Multicultural, Youth and LGBTQ segments.
On the Sports VC front, Allison Goldberg SVP and Group managing Director of Time Warner joined up with Jasmine Robinson of Causeway Media Partners and Colin Neville of Raine Group while Seth Everett moderated the session on the landscape of sports investments.
A common thread within the #HS18 conference examined how sports media and tech companies will advance the “fan experience,” a bit of buzzword 101 for years but a worthy agenda as the speed of sports outpaces the speed of light. Washington DC based Manumental Sports’ Zach Leonsis was on a panel with Draft Kings’ Ezra Kucharz and Intel’s Sandra Lopez while SportsRadar Deputy President Laila Mintas – a former professor of Sports Law at Columbia U – added perspective on the business/legal/growth equation.
The final day of Hashtag Sports saw exhibitors pack-up shop as The Times Center morphed into “SportsFronts” where the likes of Hulu, SB Nation, Barstool Sports (Erika Nardini – (@EKANardini), ESPN, FOX Sports, B/R and its (IG feed) House of Highlights guru Omar Raja (@RajaThat_) – but find him on IG not Twitter to any extent – all exhibited to a diverse audience.
In closing, the Hashtag Sports conference went from a “start-up” itself to a major player on the sports business calendar and a place that will become a platform for breaking news and more Sports VC action and demonstrations in its next iteration.
Editor’s Note: (CLICK HERE to add the full list of 99 accounts).
*If, by chance, we’ve overlooked an important presenter or attendee (or God forbid your client who will be offended by not getting “recognition” on the Hashtag ’18 DIGGIES, please feel welcome to DM us and we’re happy to make some worthy additions).
About Terry Lyons Sports Marketing and Digital Sports Desk – Widely known in the sports world for his career helping build the NBA into a globally-recognized sports, business and philanthropic property, Terry Lyons has successfully transitioned into a second career as an entrepreneur in the world of sports marketing, multimedia, brand-building and communications consulting in the sports and entertainment fields. Digital Sports Desk is recognized as one of the Best in Boston A-List Sports sites, by WGBH.