Shot Callers: Unmish Parthasarathi, Founder of Picture Board

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(Sports Tech Tokyo is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

At the end of the day sports and entertainment are still about competing for eyeballs. Even in today’s globalized climate, the key attracting an audience remains the same in all parts of the world: tell a compelling story on a platform that makes sense.

Unmish Parthasarathi is the founder of Picture Board Partners: a media company that helps startups, VC & PE funds, brands, publishers, entertainment & sports franchises, and, technology firms enter new markets, validate & scale growth opportunities, and/or facilitate digital transformation. Parthasarathi spoke with Front Office Sports at Sports Tech Tokyo about the future of sports tech, esports, and the differences in grabbing fans attention in different parts of the globe.

Edited highlights appear below:

On where sports tech is going (1:11)

Parthasarathi: “I think there’s a distinction to be made between a product and a proposition. With anything with the name ‘tech’ in it, you tend to productize an experience, which is good, but to actually scale it and monetize it…you need to think about it from a marketing perspective: brand, pricing, repeatability, differentiation, barriers to entry.. which is very different than when you’re doing a design or a workshop in the first place when you come up with your MVP. So that jump from product to proposition is key. It’s harder than people think it is.”

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On the differences between the western and eastern markets (4:41)

Parthasarathi: “If you look at the business model of the top three or four leagues in the U.S., it’s very much television heavy, which is not naturally the case of sports economics in Asia because OTT plays a role. Print plays a role because literacy is still growing. So you have this bizarre situation in Asia where there are four or five different types of media platforms which actually are raising the profile of the sport and hence grabbing the attention of the fan.”

“I think the challenges in the U.S. are very unique simply because it’s a large homogenous, affluent market. So if you get on to something good, you just go all out whereas in emerging markets, you’ve got to be far more clear about what are the different platforms that you’re pushing, which are your success factors.”

On the economics of attention (5:56)

Parthasarathi:”Typically you have someone who is awake 16 to 18 hours a day. Typically 20% of that is spent on leisure. So that’s about three to four hours. You take away social and you take away e-commerce, you probably have an hour left. The big difference between the mature economics in the west and Asia is commute time. They’re long commutes in Asia and that creates an additional hour for consumer time whereas in the U.S., until you start driving, the leisure time doesn’t really come into your equation. “

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On the most important tool to have as a story teller (7:03)

Parthasarathi: “Listening. It’s a very underrated skill. Just because someone’s not responded or said yes or had any type of response doesn’t mean that they understood it, or if they understood it that they appreciated it, and if they appreciate it that they actually have an idea of what next comes. So you’ve got to be constantly thinking, second guessing yourself to say ‘have I made my point across?’ Not to my benefit, but to the benefit of the listener. So it’s listening, making sure that what you’re saying is being comprehended, and then keeping it very bite size and incremental.”