How to become the next Leo Messi
FirstV1sion enables sports fans to watch games from the athlete’s point of view. Yes, literally. Thanks to the most advanced technology we will all (hopefully) be able to watch and learn firsthand from our favorite players
Founded in Barcelona in April 2014, FirstV1sion’s mission is to develop products that bring the true reality of sports closer to the fans. To do this, the Spanish startup integrates the most advanced audiovisual and radio transmission technology into elite athletes’ jerseys. It is the only company in the world capable of transmitting an athlete’s point of view, live, during an official game. So far, it had only been possible in Formula 1 and Mountain biking, by installing cameras in racers’ helmets. With its innovative clothing, FirstV1ision goes beyond these two sports, allowing other sports fans to become engaged with and directly learn players’ techniques. Intel named it one of the ten most interesting wearables of the year (2014).
The sports industry presents some opportunities
The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil reached a global in-home television audience of 3.2 billion people, the last Super Bowl had 111.9 million viewers…these and many other sports tournaments engage millions of people to watch their favorite sports players in real-time from home. FirstV1ision is taking it one step further by creating a unique and immersive experience that allows the viewers to position themselves in the players’ eyes. The audience numbers prove that it has great market potential.
In addition, the so called wearable technologies have allowed companies such as Fitbit or Garmin to modernize the sports industry while achieving highly successful results. Other small companies have entered the market by introducing smart clothing which incorporates sensors that track cadence, muscle effort and heart rate, among other metrics. However, none of these companies have yet launched a product like FirstV1ision’s. By being a first mover, FirstV1sion has a competitive advantage worth exploiting.
Facing possible challenges
We might consider the sports industry to be innovative; however there is still much room for technology companies like FirstV1ision to elevate this industry to the next level. There are a number of challenges, though, that FirstV1ision needs to consider.
- Regulation: There are regulations in place in some countries that limit the use of personal data like the data coming from sports players. FirstV1sion works with players that have given prior consent to broadcast their garments’ videos. Thus, the startup isn’t facing any regulation issues so far, but -in light of its novelty- potential-new legislations must be closely tracked.
- Compatibility with sports manufacturers: FirstV1sion makes its products on base kits from any brand, so there aren’t any copyright issues with club sponsors. The company has to continue making sure that these brands -such as Nike or Adidas- don’t pose any future threats.
- Broadcasting: Production companies rent FirstV1ision’s units to sell the content to broadcasters. At the same time, media rights have to be bought in order to get the content to the audience. It makes up a value chain that FirstV1sion must closely track in order to make sure that the content properly reaches the audience.
- Price: There is no official price for the garment disclosed on FirstV1ision’s website, so one might guess that it isn’t inexpensive. This might prevent some small and mid-size corporations to rent or acquire the product.
- Sport players: To get the content to the spectators, FirstV1ision must get players on board. One might think that it’s not easy, but players such as Andrés Iniesta (FC Barcelona) and Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Tunder) have already showed their support by becoming partners and investors of the company.
Considering the market opportunity and potential challenges, FirstV1ision should consider the following actions in order to thrive in the (cutting-edge?) sports industry:
- Partnering with large sports manufacturers such as Nike or Adidas which will allow FirstV1ision to access their customer base while preventing the manufacturers from becoming future competitors. This could enable the startup to increase their scale and potentially decrease the technology price.
- Entering the B2C market by providing mid-level quality garments since the current ones are full-HD. This could possibly boost brand awareness as well as incentivize corporations to buy the more expensive higher quality versions.
- Considering partnerships with sports production companies. This would provide FirstV1ision with direct contact to broadcasters and more bargaining power, reducing one step in the value chain.
- Sponsoring famous sports players to advertise its brand and products. This might encourage fans to demand FirstV1ision content on TV in order to watch their favorite player’s techniques. What soccer fan doesn’t want to become the next Leo Messi?
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 FirstV1sion official website. Accessed at http://firstvision.tv/en#About
 “FirstV1sion brings Spanish ingenuity to wearables for sports”, BlackCapital, September 18, 2014. Accessed at http://black-capital.com/news/2014/09/firstv1sion-brings-spanish-ingenuity-to-wearables-for-sports/?lang=en
 “2014 FIFA World Cup™ reached 3.2 billion viewers, one billion watched final”, Fifa.com, December 16, 2015. Accessed at http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/news/y=2015/m=12/news=2014-fifa-world-cuptm-reached-3-2-billion-viewers-one-billion-watched–2745519.html
 “Viewership of Super Bowl falls short of record”, Richard Sadomir, The New York Times, February 8, 2016. Accessed at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/09/sports/football/viewership-of-super-bowl-falls-short-of-record.html
 “Legal: The laws and regulations of wearable devices “, Daniel Tozer, Wearable Tech, September 10, 2016. Accessed at http://www.wearabletechnology-news.com/news/2015/sep/10/where-law-stands-wearable-devices/
“FirstV1sion, la empresa española que destaca en la Super Bowl de StartUps”, EFE Emprende, February 9, 2016. Accessed at http://www.efeemprende.com/noticia/startup-deporte-telefonica/
Student comments on How to become the next Leo Messi
This is so cool, Cristina! I wonder if this could solve some of the problems with instant replay that’s used in some sports – could referees in NFL football check the player cameras to see if a touchdown was actually scored? Or if a personal foul was warranted?
Also, as ESPN and many sports broadcasts are declining in subscribers and viewers, I wonder who would buy the rights to these videos? (I’m pretty sure that price would be more than covered by the sponsoring party, but would that sponsoring party be ESPN? FS1? Or someone more like Snapchat or Twitter?)
This is a fascinating company. Each year we can see how the sports industry has added small features that make the experience more enriching. The yellow 10-yard line in football, instant replay, and mic’d up hoops. This would be a huge step in keeping fans engaged into the sports they love. I wonder how the company tackles some of the practical challenges with providing video on an athlete. For example, in a fast-paced game I imagine the footage could “as the athlete sees” but a little dizzying for a 3rd party viewer. Is there software to help stabilize the footage or small engineering components that can ensure high quality video of the athletes’s perspectives. Also, in many sports I think teams have exclusive partnership with certain apparel brands like Nike. Would FirstVision be forced to partner in order to get the camera placed onto jerseys?
This is a really interesting product! I’m curious about how the legal issues would work – what if the player wearing the device has consented, but the other players visible on the device have not? Would this be a potential issue should competitors enter the space and players be sponsored by different companies? Another angle that might be interesting to explore is partnerships with gaming console/VR companies? Given the decline in viewership for traditional sporting channels, maybe the technology here could be gamified and command higher prices through features that sync with Xbox/PlayStation/Wii etc?
Awesome post Cristina! I think partnering with the official sponsors (Nike/Adidas) of the leagues they plan to enter will be the best way to gain widespread acceptance in those leagues. I also like your B2C idea and think that if more players adopted the technology, it could create a bottom up movement to adopt. The players can benefit from watching this film after a game in order to more accurately recall what decision he or she was faced with and how they could have made a more impactful and positive play. This learning/coaching will be very valuable and can supplement more traditional film study. As in all things sports, visibility through sponsors will be key as people won’t be as impressed watching from the view of a bench player on Barcelona as they will watching from the view of Messi.
Exciting article, Cristina. As a sports fan, particularly football, I would very much like to have the opportunity to see how some of the best players move on the field. It will inspire millions of small kids who aim to better their skills and become professional athletes. I remember the excitement around this technology when it was the first time used by a referee during a match between Barcelona and Real Madrid in 2015.
I wonder whether this technology will also provide benefits for the players themselves, whether they will be able to use the accumulated data to improve their own game? And do you think this technology will move beyond just video streaming and actually track the physical condition of the athletes during the game (like for example heart rate beat).
I was also intrigued by your last question and to play devil`s advocate will attempt to answer it: maybe a Cristiano Ronaldo fan? 🙂 In any case, FirstV1ision will have only to gain.
Interesting article Cristina. It sounds like an awesome technology that would certainly help draw viewers into the games. I’m curious about the other applications of the technology in sports. As Rob noted above, could it be used for referees to help make better calls? Could it also be integrated as a package with other technologies and sensors to provide a more expanded understanding of the players performance? It’s this second idea that I was particularly intrigued by. With soccer in particular, most athletes prefer to be as light and lean as possible, so has the technology become light enough so as to basically not be noticeable. To this end, if they are already committed to wearing the cameras, could they integrate other sensors showing position on the field, speed, range, and other factors that could allow coaches to get real-time game performance and feedback. The last thing I was considering was how the images might look. With soccer and other similar sports, where the body is looking or moving isn’t always as good of a depiction of what is happening. With racing, attaching the camera to a racers head makes sense as they are often looking in the same direction they are traveling. If they could create a camera to attach to a soccer players head this might help more, as long as it wasn’t too intrusive as to impact performance.