Trak’s Reflections: 2024 SBJ World Congress of Sport (Presented by CAA) in Los Angeles

Charles Reynolds
April 24, 2024
5 min read
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The Trak Software team experienced Sports Business Journal’s World Congress of Sport (Presented by CAA) at LA Live for the first time as a Showcase sponsor in April of 2024.  

There were lots of huge storylines, but here are a couple of key themes that jumped out to us:

  1. AEG / Multi-Use Development: we were wowed by all the changes at LA Live since our last visit, at Arena, the Peacock Theater and restaurants, hotels and grounds nearby, etc.  We heard some very interesting stories of the early days from various execs and the vision it took to get the neighborhood turned around along with those championship parties that took place, etc.  This real estate development trend has since become the platinum standard and goal for many owners and execs. 
  2. Top-Of-Mind Challenges: Fragmentation of streaming content is the biggest.  After that, one of the panels posed the question of “We can do a better job of (what) in sports?” AEG’s Dan Beckerman replied “streamline content delivery.”  Kansas City Chiefs (Trak partner) President Mark Donovan pointed to “collaboration and sharing technologies.”
  3. NHL: Commissioner Gary Bettman touched on the impact of expansion teams taking off and that parity has never been better in the league.  Bettman feels that the NHL is undervalued from a franchise value perspective but tops in value from a fan’s perspective.  At the time, he couldn’t dive into the Salt Lake / Ryan Smith (Smith Entertainment Group) acquisition and move of the Arizona Coyotes, but further announcements solidified the move later in the week.  We, being Utah-based, are very excited about NHL prospects in Utah, where 23k+ season ticket deposit-holders have signed up in a few weeks time! Expect NHL business records to break again this coming season with this in mind.
  4. COSM launch - Jeb Terry (CEO) spoke at and we got a preview where the COSM technology was developed at the SEAT Conference in Salt Lake City last year, and it stole the show.  Since, major rights partnerships have been announced and the L.A. venue launch is slated for June 29th with Dallas following suit. What a game-changer coming (much like the Sphere has in Vegas) for the entertainment space as the wave of immersive experiences is mounting! We can’t wait to see the partnerships approach.   
  5. Consolidation continues: all the streaming players were in attendance in force and most certainly actively as all of the top 100 broadcasts were live sports, but only 10% of content budgets were sports (via PFL’s Donn Davis). There is also some momentum discussing in-house D2C via networks and native application plays (ie. Utah Jazz).  Among others, the Legends/ASM, Fenway Sports Group (Brand Consulting) to Elevate Sports Ventures deal, and new streaming bundle (Disney, Warner Brothers, Discovery, Fox) packaging got a lot of play and will surely reshape the space if/when the dust settles.  
  6. Upstart Leagues: Time will tell on what and who will stick long-term (outside of top women’s leagues, which everyone agrees are surging).  Certainly the Professional Fighters League (PFL) has gained steam and has a nice trajectory ahead as a challenger, having recently picked up Bellator MMA and considering the talent mix and global growth strategy. Others can succeed with the right storytelling and rights monetization.  The jury will still be out on many other challengers, who face a tough battle for resources and market share.
  7. Fanatics (Michael Rubin): his takes include the importance of defining Brand Purpose, which for Fanatics is to enhance the fan experience in anything we do. Unrelentingly.  No league is growing as fast as he would like to see.
  8. SBJ Event’s Online Swapcard Platform: One of our interns, Kyle, was very impressed with the robust and valuable experience afforded by attending WCOS virtually. SBJ’s ability to broadcast the events live and on demand provided a ton of insight into the current landscape of the sports and entertainment industry. Being able to standby on-call, manning the virtual booth and answer any questions really gave him a sense of ownership in the event and lastly the ability to easily connect and network with other attendees through the platform stood out as an invaluable, differentiating resource.

With global audience expansion a key focus for many in the space, sponsorship’s role in the overall structure is increasingly more important to the growth dynamic.  Are you ready to capture the moment?

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