GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) inked its first major deal with a professional sports league last week, sending shares up 5% on the news. The agreement with the National Hockey League puts the company in a unique position to capitalize on other opportunities within the professional sports arena. "This partnership marks a significant first step for GoPro into team sports," said Todd Ballard, senior director of lifestyle marketing at GoPro.
This is undoubtedly a win for the NHL, which has struggled recently with record low attendance at some of its U.S. franchises. As a result, the league hopes immersive footage captured by GoPro gear and worn by players and officials will help revive the sport in America, where it is currently the fifth most watched sport after football, basketball, baseball, and NASCAR.
With shares of GoPro now hovering around $50, or near the low end of their 52-week range, let's take a closer look at what this deal could mean for the future of GoPro and its shareholders.
A taste of what's to come
At the very least, GoPro should be able to leverage its partnership with the NHL to broker similar deals with other major sports leagues. NHL players participating in the All-Star game over the weekend were the first to wear GoPro cameras during a live game. If fans like what they see, it could be the first of many sporting events in which athletes capture in-game action from body-mounted cameras.
Sports leagues are always looking for fresh angles from which to capture the action and engage viewers. By giving the NHL the necessary hardware to do so, GoPro is asserting itself as the standard for compelling video footage in professional sports.
Not to mention, investors will also be pleased to know that GoPro gets to keep the rights to the footage. GoPro can therefore use the video content on its GoPro Network and social media outlets, including its GoPro YouTube channel. The company has already uploaded compelling video to its online channel that displays some of the biggest hockey stars debuting their stick-handling skills at practice. This is important as it plays into the brand's emerging role as a media company.
Media and broadcasting opportunities abound
By leveraging consumer-generated videos on its GoPro Network, the best-selling camera brand is quickly growing into a global media powerhouse known for its immersive content. The company plans to monetize the network by licensing the content users upload to its site. Moreover, adding NHL video content to its media platform should only elevate its brand image going forward.
On top of all that, anytime the NHL or NHLPA uses GoPro footage from practices or games, GoPro will receive "prominent brand exposure across the NHL's broadcast, digital, and social media platforms," according to a company press release. Investors can chalk this up as free advertising for GoPro products.
The company also teamed up with Vislink, a broadcast technology specialist, to enable its HERO4 cameras to wirelessly broadcast live, high-definition video content. GoPro will showcase this video transmission solution in the coming months at events such as the Winter X Games in Aspen.
"Our partnership with Vislink brings a new level of excitement to live broadcast and we can't wait to see what players, broadcasters, and fans do with this new innovative solution," said Tony Bates, GoPro President. This underscores a key break for GoPro in the professional broadcast market.
Together, with the NHL deal, these developments create an opportunity for the company to unlock a lucrative new revenue stream from the content generated by its hardware. While these deals won't affect GoPro's earnings over the near-term, they create a foundation for GoPro to morph into much more than a mere purveyor of cameras.
GoPro is still a young company, but these partnerships indicate that management is focused on building a future that is much broader than just camera sales. These deals put GoPro in a position to promote its brand within the professional sports space, while also scaling its media business. For patient investors, it is a wonderful time to own shares of GoPro, a company in the early stages of a promising growth story.