It boasts the highest percentage of millennial fans in the U.S., so an obvious part of Major League Soccer’s growth strategy revolves around embracing technology to make that fan experience as engaging as possible. The league has long invested in streaming, on its own site, and earlier this year signed a three-year deal with Twitter. But now it’s taking its tech scouting up a level by teaming with R/GA Ventures, the venture and startup incubator arm of agency R/GA, to launch a new studio project to attract companies and entrepreneurs that will help identify key opportunities and technologies related to stadium infrastructure, fan engagement, on-field data, broadcast production, content creation, player development, and more.
Gary Stevenson, president and managing director of MLS Business Ventures, says one of the most important aspects of the league’s culture is how it is always looking for new ways to deliver the best experience possible for players, coaches, fans, and media. “What can set us apart? What can make MLS a league of choice? This includes delivering best-in-class content, on the field or on a device,” says Stevenson. “We believe that R/GA is a great partner to help us explore ways to take this further and faster.”
One connection between R/GA and MLS is Israeli tech company WSC, which uses AI and machine learning to quickly cut sports highlights together for broadcast. The soccer league started working with WSC last year, and it was one of the companies in the R/GA Ventures studio program with the L.A. Dodgers back in 2016.
“This is exactly the kind of forward-thinking company we are looking for R/GA to find as part of our program–great new tech that solves a need and helps us provide our fans with a better experience,” says Stevenson.