GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) has tied much of its future to sports footage. A favorite among surfers and skydivers, the company recently inked a deal with the NHL that allows it to provide footage from angles not normally available to sports fans. The catch is that recording will only take place during practice for now, but it does present what could be a significant opportunity in sports broadcasting for GoPro. After all, its durable, high-tech cameras seem perfect for capturing hard-hitting action in sports like hockey or football.
Now, a Spanish start-up is taking this idea one step further. A company known as First V1sion has designed a special vest containing sensors and a slim camera for professional athletes that records the action on the field from their perspective. The tech company is still small, valued at just around $26 million, but it has some legitimate backing, including Spanish telecom giant Telefonica, Andres Iniesta of FC Barcelona, and Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
As the video above shows, the footage can be illuminating or jerky depending on the sport and the action, but with editing, first-person POV footage should at least complement traditional angles in live sports broadcasting. The POV camera could also be worn by referees, in addition to players, providing another set of benefits.
As wearable technology becomes more developed, a partnership between GoPro and a company like Under Armour, which is already making significant strides in wearables and seeking to penetrate professional sports leagues, is also easy to imagine. And the possibility of the two producing a jersey like the one First V1sion has developed also seems very feasible.
"We're a media company"
CEO Nick Woodman often touts the future of GoPro as a media enterprise, even though the company makes nearly all its money from selling cameras and other hardware. The company is increasingly seeking to monetize the footage it posts on its YouTube channels and other social media, although hardware sales will be the major driver of financial performance for the foreseeable future.
The GoPro YouTube channel features footage from extreme sports, animals, and other clips designed to drive page views, but while a video of a skateboarding cat may get clicks, there is no business built around it the way there is with professional sports. Adding advertisements to those videos is one way to build revenue from its giant media library, but making deals with the professional leagues would be ideal.
The NFL is not only the most valuable professional league in American sports, but it would seem to present the best opportunity for GoPro. Already, several football teams have started using the cameras to record footage at practice for training and study. The footage gives coaches better insight into the perspective of quarterbacks and other players.
That is a good first step for GoPro as it builds its relationship with teams and the league, and GoPro has also partnered with ESPN to show some pre-game footage from player perspectives.
The success of POV footage will ultimately depend on two things. First, the response of audiences, and second, the willingness of players to use them. If the audience responds well to the POV footage and demands it, the league will surely want to encourage it as that would open another valuable ad revenue stream for the league. But for in-game usage, the cameras need to be mounted in a way so that they are not distracting the athletes.
Considering the positive response thus far and the inroads that companies like First V1sion are making, it would not be surprising to see the GoPro camera embedded in helmets in the NHL or NFL in the next five to ten years. And if that happens, then the company can actually rightfully call itself a media company.