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TAYLOR’S TAKE ON THE WEEK IN SPORTS TECH: Would you pay $20 per month to rent sports jerseys?
That’s the big question for Rep the Squad, a new Seattle startup that charges customers a monthly subscription fee to receive selected jerseys in the mail, one at a time.
I just tested the service earlier this month. The experience was pretty seamless, and it was awesome rocking a fresh Earl Thomas jersey in Los Angeles for the Seahawks vs. Rams game.
When you’re done wearing a jersey, you can return it and receive a different one as long as you maintain your subscription. It’s much like renting Netflix DVDs back in the day, and follows a similar business model to that of heavily-funded clothing startups like Rent the Runway.
The main concern for many folks is the cleanliness of the jerseys — after all, going to a sporting event can involve a lot of sweat and nasty mustard stains.
But my jersey arrived spotless and smelling like fresh laundry. I also had a chance to tour Rep the Squad’s facility in Seattle, where I watched how they thoroughly clean each jersey and ship them back out to customers daily.
It’s unclear if Rep the Squad can build a big business around this idea. The monthly fee is another question mark — is it better to pay more than $100 for permanent ownership of one jersey, or $20 per month to rent multiple ones over the course of a season?
Rep the Squad is already expanding to NBA jerseys next month, with MLB coming soon. The startup is also backed by some big-name investors. Check out photos of the HQ my full experience recap here.
Highlights from the week in sports tech
- Big news in the ticketing space this week as the NFL extended its contract with Ticketmaster, the official ticketing platform for the league. One key tech-related part of the announcement is that Ticketmaster is moving to an “open” model for authorized ticket resales. This means third-party marketplaces like Amazon or Groupon can sell legit NFL tickets on their platforms. It’s similar to what SeatGeek is doing with the MLS.
- In related news, mobile ticketing app Gametime inked its own official partnerships with NFL, NBA and NHL teams.
- I caught up with former Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice to find out why he just participated in a cryptocurrency token sale.
- Microsoft and the Green Bay Packers are teaming up for a unique partnership designed to spur innovation and economic growth in Wisconsin.
- The NBA and NFL both released new augmented reality apps for fans. Bayern Munich also debuted a similar app this week.
- LeBron James is headlining a new Intel marketing campaign about autonomous driving.
- Kevin Durant invested in LimeBike’s $50 million round and an autonomous drone startup. Fast Company takes a look at his off-the-court moves.
- The Yankees are the latest pro sports franchise to get into esports.
- Houston Astros veteran pitcher Justin Verlander used the team’s super high-speed cameras to improve the way he throws his slider.
- FOX Sports is deploying super slow motion cameras for its World Series coverage, in addition to more on-field mics and expanded integration of Statcast graphics.
- There could soon be a cool new indoor surfing facility in the Seattle area — my colleague Kurt Schlosser has the details.
- Applications are open for the NFL’s HeadHealthTECH Challenge IV.
- A fun story in The New York Times about the NFL’s “disappearing huddle.”
- The Lakers paid a visit to Elon Musk and SpaceX:
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 17, 2017
What to watch this weekend: The Yankees are up 3-2 in the ALCS, with Game 6 tonight in Houston at 5 p.m. PT on FOX … Undefeated Penn State hosts Michigan at 4:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC while USC takes on Notre Dame at the same time on NBC … It’s a Super Bowl rematch on Sunday Night Football as the Falcons visit the Patriots on NBC.
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