Why Rights Holders need to incubate in order to innovate

Why Rights Holders need to incubate in order to innovate

Reflecting on a number of the key takeaways from our last Digital Sport London event made me realise not only how challenging technology innovation is in the UK but more so in sport which is a complex and multi stakeholder sector. Most importantly, it is happening primarily via private enterprise and individuals not by the sports governing bodies themselves and that they as ever risk becoming circumvented or sidelined.


Rights Holders are struggling to keep up with digital demand from sponsors and fans.

Now they have woken up to the opportunity (or more to the point sponsors are demanding they do) they must innovate in order to compete for digital share of voice against independent publishers and content creators by not only serving original, creative and high quality content but also innovative platforms and engagement tools.

More and more I am meeting with commercial or digital departments that are trying to keep up with digital demand for ‘more content’ however in an ecosystem where there is already more content than can be consumed this isn’t necessarily the right solution.

Rights holders are at the heart of the ecosystem and its key stakeholders of fans, broadcasters, players and brands. Where better to innovate?! However an official rights holder isn’t a natural investor or innovator by nature, they are sports governing bodies not tech platforms, VCs or entrepreneurs.

The challenge is what to do? Become an Incubator.

By becoming an incubator or even partnering with an incubator or private enterprise you get the best of both worlds.

Rights holders are risk averse, working to fixed budgets and calendars and are primarily focused with what is happening on the pitch.

Partnering with private enterprise takes the risk out of the initiative but most importantly puts the expertise of developing and launching a product and building businesses in the right hands.

Too often I see digital and technology solutions for innovation’s sake – great ideas twinned with the latest innovation solving a problem that doesn’t exist. Well, rights holders have real problems that need solving plus the ecosystem of sport, a readymade customer base that is demanding new ideas and innovations.

Similarly, rights holders don’t understand the new technologies and innovations coming through well enough to be able to practically consider them let alone develop solutions. A great example of this is blockchain & cryptocurrency, where there is a lot of hype about the technology and its potential but its full application in sport probably isn’t being fully understood or explored bar a few.

Lastly developing a product in-house for just one customer isn’t necessarily profitable or the most cost effective way. Incubation is a low cost investment and offers the Rights Holder a potential upside of the gains.

To find out more about incubation opportunities with Snack Media & Digital Sport please contact me rupert@snack-media.com

Upcoming Digital Sport events can be found here: https://digitalsport.co/events/category/digital-sport-london