Issue #004

“Influencers are the modern athletes.”

“Fans are the new Free Agents.”

“Insurgent Sports Innovate.”

“Thrive To Survive”


Are The

ON_Sport is diving into the last stronghold of the rapidly changing world of professional sports — the fan experience. Unlike other media verticals, the fan experience has been largely insulated against disruption; live sports has been one of the last bastions of linear broadcast media, a vast and mature market where regional relationships drive market activity and predictable consumer behaviors.

This stability is facing a triple threat of unstoppable disruption: the unbundling of ESPN, the rise of online gambling/fantasy, and the memification of highlights. These forces are resetting fan expectations for how they consume the game, what matters most to their experience, and where business opportunities lie in an uncertain future.

The intergenerational transfer of fanatical devotion of a local team is going to fundamentally change in the new media and digital landscape; but the love of the game will remain. How will that love be witnessed, monetized, and mediated in an uncertain future?

Read the rest of the issue introduction


If you had $100 million, where would you invest it for the best 10-year return?

This is the first question we asked at the ON_Sport Nashville event we had in October. Answers ranged from a minority investment in an established NFL team, to full ownership of a lower league or a small market soccer team, to investing in Topgolf for tennis, to investing and making bowling huge, to a Davos-like sports summit for the business of sports, to pickleball, to women’s sports, to technology, etc.

The best investment is not exactly obvious. What is clear is that the landscape is shifting.

How did our guests answer the question?

Is the first question we asked at the ON_Sport Nashville event we had in October. Answers were everything from minority investment in established NFL team, to full ownership of a lower league or small market soccer team, invest in TopGolf for Tennis, to investing and making bowling huge, to a Davos like sports summit for the business of sports, to pickleball, to womens sports, to technology, etc. 

Clearly its not exactly obvious what will be the best investment, but what is clear is the landscape is shifting.

How did our guests answer the question?


Are live sports rights a bursting media bubble?

Media rights have long been the cash cow of professional sports. Can this system sustain long-term profitability amidst our changing digital landscape and unbundling of cable distribution?

We found a few people to share their perspective:

Game over! The uncertain future of Live Sports


Live sports needs to embrace the realities of reality TV

The death of live sports is GREATLY EXAGGERATED


The future of live sports rights in streaming is drama

Can insurgent leagues capture market share from the NFL?

In our numerous virtual and in-person events, the topic of “the NFL is god and immune” to all the forces that seem to be challenging the NBA and MLB. What makes the NFL so powerful? Is it designed for TV? Is it just a better sport? It certainly isn’t internationally.

We used to have one or two live NFL game broadcasts per week. Then came Sunday Night Football, followed by Monday Night Football, and finally Thursday Night Football. The growth didn’t end there. We got NFL Sunday Ticket with access to all the games, then NFL RedZone, followed by fantasy, and of course betting. Finally, we added analysis to fill in the time in between.

Meanwhile, insurgent sports in the US have been innovating to keep up with changing fan behavior. Think about the pickleball takeover, Topgolf, Street FC, Messi’s MLS and Apple deal, the MLB pitch count, the midseason NBA tournament, and so on. New behaviors and innovation are popping up and feeding off each other.

Neal Hubman

Co-Founder and President,
Los Angeles Golf Club

Better storytelling can bring new audiences to traditional sports

Don Povia

CMO at BYB Extreme
Fighting Series

Sports need tribes to

Dennis Crowley

Stockade FC, Founder and Chairman
Street FC, Co-Founder and CEO

Unlock more fan passion with a European style relegation system.

James Watson

SVP of Production,
LIV Golf

Innovating without losing traditional fans

Sports need to be careful not to turn off traditional fans.

LIV Golf has threaded the needle in golf innovation. While the organization added several features to make the game more engaging for a modern audience, it has been careful not to go too far.

Grant Cohen

Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer, Fan Controlled Sports

The future is fan 

Sports need to completely reimagine the games and put fans in control.

Fan-controlled sports and entertainment has taken transforming the game to the extreme. We’ve thrown away most of the rule book and given fans direct access to how the game is played, to the point where fans call the actual plays.

Anthony DeRosa

Head of Content and Product, ON_Discourse

Over-engineered technology might sterilize sports

Digital engagement trends are diminishing the best part of the live experience.

One of the most captivating aspects of sports is the raw emotion and spontaneity—think last-second goals, unexpected comebacks, or even just the roar of the crowd. Over-engineered technology might sterilize these elements, creating a more controlled but ultimately less exciting experience.

Aly Wagner doesn’t need gimmicks to bring fans to women’s soccer


Aly Wagner says launching a soccer team is harder than raising triplets

On Playing Business, we interviewed Aly Wagner, a former professional soccer player, an Olympic gold medalist, and a co-founder of Bay FC, about driving fan engagement in a new franchise and a developing league.