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Data, AI and the Economics of Sport

“Over the last 20 years, the sports industry has grown exponentially. We’re in that decade where everything has to change. The entire plumbing has to change,” believes Unmish Parthasarathi.  

The founder and executive director at Picture Board Partners joins us for a second episode of Slaves to the Algo. Host Suresh Shankar and Unmish continue to talk about how the use of data and AI is growing in the field of sports. Here’s the link to Part 1 of the series. In this episode, they cover off-field preparation and how data plays a vital role in determining the value of players. It’s not just about performance, but also about entertainment. 

Unmish is a sports and cricket enthusiast. He has held digital leadership roles for a decade each in the APAC and EMEA for media blue chips such as the BBC, Endeavour, ESPN STAR Sports, Fox International Channels and News Corp. He also helped launch innovative and landmark OTT video services such as the BBC iPlayer, ESPN Play, and BallBall-Dugout Asia. 

In 2015, Unmish founded Picture Board Partners. The hybrid digital boutique provides strategy, sales & investment advisory to clients across sectors: Gaming, Education, Media and Technology. Or GEMS, as he calls it.  

This one is for football and cricket fans, and everyone in between. Get ready to be introduced to intersections of sports and AI you would have never thought of! Will sports-persons soon be slaves to the algo? Check out the full conversation between Suresh and Unmish below. 

About Slaves to the Algo  

Whether we know it or not, like it or not, our lives have been taken over by algorithms. Join two-time entrepreneur and AI evangelist Suresh Shankar, as he talks to leading experts in various fields to understand how they are using or being used by algorithms in their personal and professional lives. Each episode highlights how businesses can leverage the power of data in their strategy to stay relevant in this new age of AI. Slaves to the Algo is brought to you by Crayon Data, a Singapore-based AI and big-data startup.  

Suresh Shankar is the founder and CEO of Crayon Data, a leading AI and big data start-up based in Singapore. Crayon Data’s flagship platform, maya.ai, is the AI platform powering the age of relevance.  

How to listen to our podcast  

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Full transcript of the episode below: 

Suresh Shankar 

Hello viewers and listeners. Welcome back to this episode of slaves to the algo. I’m delighted to continue my conversation with one mesh part the Saudi on how data and AI is being used to transform the world of sport. In the last episode, we talked a lot about how this is being used to improve the performance of players on the field of play. How there was a difference between, let’s say, using data and the magic of the moment. In this episode, we’re going to talk about another way in which data and AI is transforming sport, which is what is happening off the field of play. How is data being used to determine the value of players of the people who are actually providing that entertainment, if you will? And how was it being used to actually engage the people we’re paying for the sole thing, which is the fan, which is you and I. So welcome back to the show Unmish. I’m really, I think we could have multiple episodes, and maybe we will. 

Unmish Parthasarathi 

Thank you very much for having me on. Again, it was great fun last time. Probably a spoiler alert for your listeners and viewers that this is going to be a bit more sort of a bit more economics oriented, rather than psychology is going to be more from the mind and the heart the next half an hour. So please bear with us, we mean well. But I like the way you sort of frame this in terms of, you know, the, as I was saying the last time around, and the value proposition is about creating and capturing value if you don’t do both younger proposition. And then to situate what you just said about the athlete and the fan on either ends, right? Athlete creates the value and fan captures the value or the fans attention creates the currency to capture the value. So that’s actually well structured. Let’s break down two different parts. And let’s talk about first about fans. I think we can come to the oxygen piece later because lots has been spoken about it. But I think we are in a in a situation in this decade post COVID In the last decade it was all about fan engagement. Right? And I believe this decades is, it is not will be is all about fan inclusion. Now the difference is that fan engagement at its core, and I probably won’t be popular now for the first time for saying it was very patronizing. Come here, child sit on my lap, let me tell you a story. Right from a transaction analysis perspective was very much parent child. Right? Fan inclusion in going with the times that we are with me to Black Lives Matter, whatever the case might be, is an equal relationship. Right. And it goes back to the point I think Gillian Docherty spoke about around data being transparent there, the ethics of data and the inclusiveness of data. And that’s a very important part. And inclusion to my mind has got three different elements to it. One is the fan as a consumer of content. The other is the fan as a customer, of their, you know, loyalty or not to a sporting brand, be the Federation league event athlete, and you’ve spoken about, you know, loyalty and incentives in your previous podcasts. I’m the third to my manners, which is the largest piece in this decade is the fan of the citizen. So found as a consumer of content, found as a customer of products and services and found a citizen who actually is seeking a return on the investment made from tax money into sport of different kinds of electricity, water, real estate, whatever the case might be, as opposed to these. So that’s my sort of second point in terms of where we are in terms of the use of data off the pitch. And then the last piece really is the size of sport. Over the last two decades has become so large relative to where it was 20 years ago and you speak about the mindset change, right in your previous podcast, are you going to leave it behind and move forward to a whole new world. We are in that decade where everything has to change, the entire Plumbing has to change. And I’m very thankful for data and technology and the kind of you know, companies in the space that you guys are in are there. So three points fan engagement, fan inclusion three segments within fan inclusion and then the whole idea of data actually helping sport realize far bigger impact at a societal level through data, which would not have been possible even five years ago in terms of sensibility, openness, and a solution as the case might be, but I’ll stop, then take a sense check. 

Suresh Shankar 

Well, I think that’s a great thing. And you know what, when you talk about the idea of moving from fan engagement to fan inclusion, and then you talked about the fan as a consumer of content, and as a person who buys other stuff that you do, I just like the thing, it is an unequal relationship, they basically today the fan is paying for that they’ve been taken for granted. You sell them the t-shirt, you sell them the rights for whatever it is that you’re watching and streaming, the price of all that is going up? Where do you think fan inclusion will be? How do you think it’d be different? And how do you think data will play a role in making moving from engagement creating the fan as a consumer to inclusion, which means you’re making the fan a part of the club, if you will, or part of the Federation a part of the sport? Could you give us a few examples of where you think its headed? 

Unmish Parthasarathi 

Yeah. So I think the immediate one, which comes to mind is the growth of women’s sports, especially at a team level, rather than individual level, if you look at football, and you know, what the FAA has done in the UK, with, with women’s football, which, you know, USA began with me a hand back in the 90s, the soccer moms in the previous decade, I think, I think cricket’s turn has come. And then that goes back to the inclusion piece at a much larger level. Right. That’s one Secondly, I think, I think, you know, this is we have the Paralympics in the Special Olympics, there’s going to be another level altogether of differently-abled, which is a huge area of untapped potential, off the pitch, a lot needs to happen off the pitch for us to realize the benefits on the pitch. That’s my second point. I’ve my third point which is mental health. I’m fortunate to be part of the GO Sports Foundation in Bangalore, which, you know, basically plugs in the Olympic pathways between where sort of, you know, governments stop, and private institutions start and the sort of space in the middle, and the focus for us around differently-abled, and the gender issue and mental health has become more and more and more important, because it is an off pitch societal variable, which is a binary, if we solve that there’s a huge impact that you can actually have through sport as a medium to actually solve for inclusion, which is very, very different way gender or ability or mental health. 

Suresh Shankar 

So let’s come back, they talked about women’s sport, and I think you’re absolutely right. I mean, it started with football, I can see that it’s beginning to happen with cricket. Thankfully, some of the women’s cricket is far more interesting to watch in the men’s cricket. But again, going back to the idea of fan input, is this because fans are demanding it? What exactly is the thing? Because I mean, I can’t believe that administrators are ahead of the curve in this in terms of the strike, typically, they tend to be behind the curve. So where is the where is the fan and all of this used? Are you saying that fans are demanding it, that’s why it’s happening? 

Unmish Parthasarathi 

I think it isn’t the time that we live in. So there is no silver bullet, there’s no uni-variate equation, there’s a multivariate equation. So I think you can start from and rather than going sort of, you know, consumer, customer citizen, we can go citizen, customer, consumer, because citizenry fundamentally the right you know, customer has a discretionary element where I do not need to spend my time or money or my reputation with you, and consumers very intuitive. It’s in the moment. So they have to sort of police from an economic perspective, right? I think we’re in a time where transparency is very important, which goes back to Gillian’s point as well, right? I think we’re at a time when ethics are very, very important. Because, you know, we haven’t had economic growth over a decade, at a global level, you know, post O’nine O’seven, or we haven’t really have the kind of Bull Run, which has impacted large economies, emerging markets and mature markets in a way, which it did through from sort of, I would say, the early 90s suit in 2010. I think that that’s the, I think the first thing to keep in mind is context. Right? The second thing to keep in mind is I think it’s reached a stage where one can address the problem, the means to address the problem. One is defining the problem, which the context. The other is what the addressability of the problem, you know, So, Pangong speaks about these ridiculous problems of the world. You know, a lot of people say almost, what do you do? What’s your look, I am basically looking to engage a billion fans in the emerging markets. That’s fundamentally what my raison d’etre is. And then they said, Okay, but why education and why gaming? I think because education is no longer this is no longer mandated is discretionary. Learning is discretionary. Right? You’ve spoken about I think, as one of your previous speakers spoke about the lack of completion rates and Coursera that if you don’t engage the individual as a fan of learning, forget about a fan of sport. There is no reason why the relevance is going to lead to reach is going to revenue so one is about citizenry and hold your authority but that smiley Murfin F is for all one about the context whereas citizenry, the others around customers who can walk and make their choices without you knowing it, although now you do know it. And the third is the magic of sport, which makes this consumption extremely social. This morning I woke up and my told my 81 year old mother, she said, Did you sleep? Well, I said, No, I slept at one o’clock at night, I was watching the 19 final in the Caribbean, or who won. She had no idea whether it was India or not, whether it was England or not, who won. So societal is a right as it is a citizen customer is a discretionary dynamic, which we have never faced in sport. And the consumption piece has such a large value to engage and connect at a time when there’s a lot of pain, the work, but I’ll stop there. 

Suresh Shankar  

Yeah. And I think I’d probably like to do a separate conversation around the fan and the citizen aspect of this thing. But the reason I was smiling is because you know, you referred to so many of my podcasts that I can see at least you listened to many of them. I hope the other viewers have been as kind to me. But the comeback I think I’m just want to focus on it, I have a I have a contention Unmish and we talked about a billion fans, I believe. And I like the way you started this when you said sit on my lap and watch this stuff. I still believe Federation’s broadcasters, treat fans with a degree of contempt. And what I mean by that is something I can only buy a package. And when you look at look at the way the world of commerce is going, but I want to watch something, I want to watch it in the moment, I want to kind of spend some time in that I have one bundle content, I can do all of that stuff. Today, it is practically impossible in the world of sports rights, for the fan to not have to pay a hefty package to do with all kinds of restrictions in order to be able to simply engage with something that they want to either in the moment or over a period of time. Another way in which you do it is, you know this whole thing about when you talked about the fan of the consumed customer where you know, it’s the same thing suddenly more T shirts 70 More of this merchandise and memorabilia. And there’s very little really attempt to treat the fan except as a fount of money to fund the game. Is this going to change at all in the new world? So I urge you to commerce, and I’m going to make this point one more just one, they treat the people now the customer as somebody who has the complete drains in the customers hands, whether it’s whether it’s video, whether it’s commerce, whether it’s anything else, the customer is in control. In sports, that’s not the case, the fan is not in control. 

Unmish Parthasarathi  

I’ll make three points. And each of which are going to posit a counter argument to your view, not your opinion. Right? Because I think that opinion is guilty of putting an economic and industrial basis to what is actually a consumer sentiment as a fan. And that there’s a there’s a dichotomy there and explore that further. That’s my first point. My second point is Bezos began Amazon in 1992; 30 years ago. Right? The whole notion of fan of the customer is less than a decade old. However, like most emotional things with music, big gaming, beats sport, even education, I think increasingly, once you cross the chasm, you know, from the early adopters, early majority, 80 becomes a hockey stick extremely fast. So the ability of these genres to actually make up for, let’s say, suboptimal behaviors in the past is going to be extremely hard, extremely fast, and therefore I’m very bullish about that in this decade, even pre COVID. Right. That’s my second point. My third point is I don’t believe that Federation leagues and event promoters are deserve the criticism and cynicism that they get nowadays, because I think they need to be commended for creating properties like the Champions League right creating properties like like the English Premier League, like the IPL, which was out of thin air and which will become such a large part of our social culture. Remember 2007 Eight when IPL happened, and the naysayers saying “nahi chalega nahi hogs”. How will this happen? You know bowlers will get hit for six. The most fascinating part today about T20 is not the batting but the bowling. You know, so the whole game has changed for the first time. The shortest format of the game has made it no longer a batsman’s game or a bowlers game. 

Suresh Shankar  

Absolutely. But I’m again, I’m glad to hear you say that you know that it will evolve and suddenly when it takes off, it will change very rapidly. And I hope that that’s the case. And I’m not against the fact that you know, and I completely agree with you that the new formats and the new ways they’ve created excitement has been fantastic for the fans. I just feel that the pace of change. I take your point about commerce being 30 years old, but the pace of change is still driven in a very antiquated view of the of this by the season. Buy it in a country, etc, etc. And then a good reason for it. But I do believe that, that fans is an even better deal than simply having to fork out more and more money. You know, for for these packages, if you will. And I take your point that somewhere that this will change, but I’m going to come back. I mean, you do think that you will start to see I mean, you know, everybody talks about their social engagement fans I have a man united famously has more fans in their footballing performance today justifies. There’s lots of things like that that are going on, right? And then, but do you see actually a situation where the industry will start to engage fans as individuals, do you think they’ll start to do individual fan profiling? You know, two predictions that are very, very relevant to me, I only want to know about for sportsmen and what’s happening, you think those kinds of things are going to come? 

Unmish Parthasarathi  

So let me sort of pick up on what you initially began with in the question. You know, Napoleon famously said, people come together because of two reasons, fear or interest. And he also famously said, a dog is a man’s best friend for the same sentiment, a lot of what you’re saying these wars and Amazon was good because they were outside the system, they were not a Walmart are a Marks and Spencers. Something that’s very important that in the institutional bases of organizations have a lot to do with how much and how fast they can innovate. And one has to manage to sort of keep that in mind. That’s my point, my first point, and then how is our bridge? Your question about, you know, our Federation’s leagues and clubs going to target the fan, I think is going to be the other way around. But they may have an economic interest for people to be together and not Nestle target fans, because sport historically was a b2b to see business. You know, I do a deal with a large FMCG brand. And then I bring them audiences because brands never buy content they buy by audiences who consume the content. The big thing which has changed the last, I would say, four to five years, and especially through COVID is the concept of the player publisher. You know, which my first boss me that talks about Facebook, that’s where the dynamic is going to come from whenever articoli or Ronaldo can speak to over 100 million people, when the technology allows you to, for him or her to be able to segment by language, and by economic class, and by choice of platform for which, you know, the tools are there today. And for their lawyers to work out a way whereby they retain rights on a player perspective. That’s when things will change. Because there is such a CS MC impact on the the collective bargaining model, as they call it, as opposed to the individual bargaining model. So rather than looking on the demand side, where why can I treat a fan as a customer within the collective bargaining, the whole value of the proposition was the sum of the parts when you look at the supply side of who’s creating the value when but my point about creating the 

Suresh Shankar   

sportsman and that’s an interesting point. But when you talk about the power of Virat Kohli or Ronaldo, you look at somebody like Ashwin, who runs his own YouTube channel, and like, you know, has an interesting point of view that He expresses in that, do you think that this whole individual sports went to a set of individual fans is really going to be the big dynamic of the future, 

Unmish Parthasarathi 

I think is going to be is gonna be the next layer of fan inclusion. Because and he comes from gaming in gaming this on Twitch, this notion of bits, where if you’re a caster, and you know bits are effectively you know, small changes were right, if I’m throwing bits at you, you’ll call out my name, which for me is like it’s a digital autograph, right? It’s so how is that any different from Ronaldo or Shahrukh Khan saying, Okay, guys, let’s talk. It is a one on one conversation, no moderation, you know, no filtering of press conferences, nothing at all. It is fundamentally inclusive. 

Suresh Shankar     

Right, and that is a fundamental question of a fan engagement in a way right? Because now the fan, actually I mean, yes, we all love the sport, but we are loved the sportsman even more as a fan. So you’re now enabling this one to one conversation in some ways. 

Unmish Parthasarathi    

Yes. And to my mind, I don’t think it’s a zero sum game. I don’t think it’s an either or. I think it’s more about the players actually helping if you look at what the NBA players have done for the, for the Black Lives Matter movement. You know, if it hadn’t happened during COVID and happen had happened at the height of the NBA season, they would have at the time. The amount that NBA 2K has grown through gaming and the players themselves playing or Formula One or EPL because of COVID. The game and the Federation the league has benefited a lot more than the individual players. So my point is not a dominant situation between the players in the Federation’s, which was the case in individual sports. You recall tennis, recall golf now famously with Greg Norman. That’s not going to happen in team sports. And my third point is the player shelf life in a team sport is far more sensitive and risky than in individual sports and therefore the player always knows that he or she is dispensable. And that makes them a very different kind of a publisher than a pay TV operator who’s got all the content you want to watch? So I’m saying, Yeah, it’s a complex piece, and you break it down in terms of supply side demand side, creating value and capturing value and this whole notion of inclusiveness, which is across your citizen, customer and consumer. 

Suresh Shankar 

Which brings me to I think the second part of what you wanted to talk about what the off the page, which is the way the economics of, let’s say, how teams are playing, you know, assemble players and how we are scouting and all of that. And again, I’m going back to the theme of what we do, how do we use data and AI to do that? Right, we’ve just finished finished the end of the English football, you know, the European football transosseous Ranieri, we have the IPL auction coming up, Moneyball famously started this whole thing, it seems to me that on the one hand, there is no economics because all this stuff is doing blown up and like the numbers are bigger and bigger. On the other hand, there seems to be way more science that people believe underlying these numbers and to how they actually influences right. But But how do you I mean, you know, you talked about how people are being how scouts are finding people based on using data and certain formulas and so on, Could you walk us through some, some big changes that you’re seeing about how data is being used in the actual attraction of talent? 

Unmish Parthasarathi     

So as a sport has got commercialized, it’s also going to industrialize from a corporate structure perspective. You and I have worked in large corporate corporate companies, corporate structures and corporate environments. What is the singular basis of success and continued growth and professional escalation? In a large organization? Question here, what is the what is the biggest driver is the ability to not get it wrong? Which is different from getting it right. Interesting, right? Fundamentally, if you don’t get it wrong, and get it kind of right, most of the time, you’ll find the big use of, of data, I believe in the IPL or the transfer window, either side of COVID. When player rights are growing, what distribution is growing with the old model of a television is beginning to get disenfranchised, is the use of management to say that we didn’t get this wrong. So it’s more around managing the downside, then finding the gems, because don’t forget your outlay, as a share of total is really going up. Today, you got $100 million, you got you got 100 crores for 70 closes $10 million on an auction. Right, at a time when two companies have made $100 million, whatever, a billion dollars, if not more, compared to the Rajasthan Royals, which was sold for $68 million, 15 years ago. So the economic risks of getting it not right. In terms of fiduciary accountability of the management, is today are a different magnitude than it was even five years ago. That’s interesting, because 

Suresh Shankar     

it seems that both in football and cricket definitely where you have these auctions, and in the NBA, there’s a lot of premium on getting in those one or two big things. So that seems to be a premium on getting it right. But you actually make an interesting point, which is that most of these are about not getting it wrong. And that’s there’s a bit of a divergence out there. Because then you get let’s say, Glenn Maxwell to play for your team and you pay him a lot of money. That’s you taking a risk on making the right thing. And, you know, the same thing about let’s say, when man united signs Ronaldo, or, you know, people go there and say we PSG signs Messi. So how do you, you know, do you really believe that people are more focused on not getting it wrong? 

Unmish Parthasarathi     

No. But that’s not meant as a criticism. I think that’s good. That goes back to my point about sanctity. As an organization, were responsible to shareholders, as an organization, which is responsible for society, you got to get a lot of things pretty much right? Unfortunately, what happens in this, you know, sort of clickbait driven media of today is that you only talk about message deal. Right? Or you occasionally talk about you either talking about big stuff, which is easy for people to understand the LCM multiple, right? The lowest common multiple, right? Or you’re talking about sort of innovation itself, or all that kind of stuff. The bulk of the world actually exists between these two extremes. 

Suresh Shankar     

And that’s not true. You look at Fenway Sports Group, and the way they’ve done it in baseball, the way they’ve done it in Liverpool, it’s always, you know, I get the fact that they’re trying to say, we won’t bid for players over 30 or whatever it is, because we have a certain formula that we follow. But I guess what’s interesting is that you’re saying is that are you trying to say that most clubs and most of these are now focused on are getting it wrong? 

Unmish Parthasarathi     

No, I’m not a leading question. My point is about not getting wrong most of the time means that you’re pretty much getting it right much of the time. But my point is that you’re entering a phase where the economic stakes, and the societal stakes are so large, that you have to be pretty sure that you’re maintaining the sanctity of your position and data helps you do that. That’s my argument. 

Suresh Shankar     

So how did I help? Let’s get into the 

Unmish Parthasarathi     

example. I wasn’t I was going to London newsroom when the Glazers took over Manchester United. Right? 20 years ago, oh, my god, several million dollars in debt. It’s a bargain. You know, people don’t realize that Edward had 100 People in Buckingham Palace, road, London, creating value in terms of licensing of the ManU brand across, as you said to the other fan base, and the other countries, predominately, they represent Pacific, which created very nice annuities of income, which actually securitize the entire business. That’s debt, right, which is a very different risk profile, to investment as an equity holder, which is we know whether it’s, you know, Fenway, or whether it is CVC, or whether it is Goenkas, but my point is, you’re fundamentally entering an age where sport is an industry. And it is bringing institutional investors, whether it’s Redbird or CDC or the large Indian institutions, in a manner such that the numbers involved are not necessarily, you know, pocket money or family offers a personal account. They’re very large place to be had. And there’s an expectation of both commercial return and societal return. Hence, you know, Lucknow is going to be Lucknow and Ahmedabad is going to be Ahmedabad. My point is, you’ve got to situate the player valuation question in the context of the larger institutional basis, that is mature in the industry for sport. That’s my point. I’m not saying that, you know, getting it right at an auction is not important. I’m saying that it is far more important to make sure that you do get a series of wins, the collective value of which is much bigger. It’s a portfolio play, as opposed to a as opposed if it’s how you build a team, as opposed to having you know, Mike Tyson, because it’s in the individual driven Fight Night. 

Suresh Shankar     

And coming back into that, perhaps that thing when you and I get the point about, like, you know, it’s a portfolio that trying to build and you know, if you have to, in a team sport, it’s either seven, eight roster, or 10 or 12. People with basketball, it’s about 25 or 30 people if it’s football or cricket. How do you actually use data now, to make sure that you can balance the portfolio? And you know, can you give us a couple of ways in which people are thinking about it? Maybe for the audience know, how does like let’s say a team decide on an IPL strategy on auction Saturday. 

Unmish Parthasarathi     

So in the multiple women, some of those rooms and let me let me give you examples rather than look to answer the question, when the multiple questions, they’re from different point of view, which are not necessarily consistent. Let me give some examples, right.  Messi is transferred to PSG right, had multiple dimensions to it. Right, it was more about bringing PhDs to the mainstream was more around using messy over and beyond where we are, it’s a bit like Pele playing for Cosmos, at the end of his playing time, that’s one dynamic. One example. Let’s look at Sydney football group, which is, you know, the Abu Dhabi backed piece, which was Melbourne, Mumbai, FC Manchester City, all that kind of stuff, a way different than a business looking at franchises in a single sport across both emerging and mature markets. Let’s look at that example. Right. And let’s, let’s look at something which is like, let’s look at, you know, Fenway, and when Liverpool and that kind of stuff, again, sticking with them football, the motivations for all three are very, very different. Or conversely, they’re not the same. Right? It’s not necessarily about what is the singular value of a sole asset? You got to contextualize the purchase in terms of where does the organization want to go in the next five to eight years? It is no different from a big acquisition. If you’re a corporate. I think Unilever has a similar problem at the moment, right? It is no different because the size and scale of the expectations, the heterogeneity and the complexity of the decisions that senior management has to make is so complex. Well, it’s so complex, it is not as simple as it used to be a decade ago. And that’s a good thing, because that professionalize is off the pitch decision making. When you work out saying this is my core asset. This is my portfolio of assets. This is where I want to take my brand over the next five years. And this is fundamentally my promise to society. Because the expectations also of supporting institutions now are going way beyond matchday and you know investor return and commercial return all that kind of stuff. I’m just saying I think we have situate this conversation like in the previous company or when we talk on the previous podcast about fan include about what is the societal context? I think one has to, you know, situate this conversation around the use of data in sport for off pitch decision making, in the context of the expectations of shareholders, of fans and commercial partners, and society. And that’s a very important starting point. Fair enough? 

Suresh Shankar     

I think. If I had to bring that down into a tactical level, and try and talk about, let’s say, a particular auction strategy, and the IPL is coming up as an example. Yeah. How do you? How do people actually sit in? And I understand the context that, you know, there’s so much money to be done. And there’s a certain shareholder return and all of that, but how do you you’re sitting with a purse, and you are sitting with a, you know, a portfolio that you need to manage? How are people actually using data to manage this portfolio to construct this team? Which is the portfolio of assets in a way? Yeah, any examples or anything? Like I have done it? 

Unmish Parthasarathi     

Yeah, I can talk about it more from a, you know, from what I see what’s in the public domain, rather, anything which is privileged and confidential, right. I think that three variables, I think one is very important in terms of what is success to you. That’s important. Do you want to you want to win, you want to be a finalist, you want to be in the playoffs? That’s my first piece. I think that’s very, very important. If you look at Delhi capitals, you know, their play has really been, from my perspective about not necessarily winning. But being in the last four being in the last two. I know, that’s a very important things to have, right? Which are very different from a CT scan MRI, when nothing shows the trophy is important. So that’s the first point to keep in mind. Right. And the second point is, I think you mentioned Maxwell, right, and the RCB acquisition, I think we are at a time where in the in the context of the IPL, I think we’re in a space where there are a lot of parts in the equation, which can be fulfilled by non premium assets. Right? If you look at Sunrisers, and their entire bowling strategy, entirely Indian talent, a second time for emphasis , you know, so they focus on that, okay, and we spend the bulk of our money on a warner and a Bairstow, and a Williamson. So Adam, that’s a second piece of look, in terms of what is your side of play? What is your philosophy of where do you think you’re gonna, you know, sort of put your chips in which numbers but then the rest also gets taken care of, other than the sunrises, which is very different to Delhi capitals, to a very different to a CS and an MI. And instead of RCB, and RRR, sort of quite unique in the way they behave. Right, that’s my second point. So one is more in terms of what is your definition of success work backwards from there? The second is, what is your style of play? And therefore, how do you mix and match again, goes back to my point about portfolio, low beta, high beta, as opposed to, you know, competence intervals and average impact. Right. That’s, that’s a second point. And my third point is, what is the opportunity cost that you want to walk away from? 

Suresh Shankar     

And that will be a big factor actually in the thing because at some point, everything becomes something that doesn’t fit with your strategy or your your, your idea of affordability right. In fact, that probably be the hardest thing for sitting in the auction room. Would I be right in saying that? 

Unmish Parthasarathi     

It would be but that’s what you have to guard against? Because the most obvious thing, classic poison chalice Winner’s Curse, as the case might be, keep in mind, there are 10 teams this time, not eight. But the talent pool has not gone up that much. Yep, true. The talent pool has not gone 25% So you got to keep it in mind. So you know, it’s more around definition of success, institutional bases and how we play you know, Guardiola is very different from, you know, from Liverpool. And then the third is opportunity cost. When do you walk away? It’s a classic negotiation, right? When do you give the pen. And when you say, You know what, this is not for me, I’m, I’m done. 

Suresh Shankar     

And that’s a very nice framework in which you put it and again, Unmish. I think we could talk about this probably for a few more days. And we’ll probably come back for some more episodes on on some of these things. But it has been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show, I also did probably want to come back and do a separate episode on how you’re seeing all this playing out in gaming in, in immersive media, all of that we’ll probably do a separate episode on that one. But it’s an absolute pleasure to be chatting with somebody who knows. I think the full range of the of the sports economy, right, from the societal aspects, all the way to the commercial and the shareholding right down to actually what happens in the field of play. And that’s a very rare that you get somebody who can span the entire spectrum. So thank you very much for being on the show. And thank you for very much for sharing your both for your views on how data is being used both on and off the field. And we’ll have you back for some more episodes. 

Unmish Parthasarathi     

There’s no thank you. You’ve been very generous with your time and your compliments. But no, this has been fun. I wish you well I’ve been as you as you guess I’ve been following the slaves in the algo podcast on my bike for the last three months as we’ve been speaking about this and I’m also as a as a industry professionals across gems and be thankful that you know, your podcast and you know you yourself are thinking about these sectors and looking to address them. So you know, thank you for the entire community that’s working hard to effectively, you know, make this industry worth growing. So appreciate that. But it’s been great fun. 

Suresh Shankar   

Thank you. And to my viewers and listeners, thank you for listening us today. Slaves to the algo is available on YouTube, Spotify, Google and Apple podcasts. We release a new episode every week, sometimes more frequently. We’re trying to get as Unmish said into different kinds of indices in different ways in which data and algos is being used to change our lives. And if you really liked this episode, don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. And remember that we are living in the world of data. We are living in the age of AI, but we none of us want to be slaves to the algo whether you’re in sports or in any other industry. See you all next week. Thank you!  

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Sruthi Ravishankar
Sruthi is a 'Brand Mom.' She believes that to see a brand do well in the market, is almost like proud parenting. Currently, Sruthi is a Brand Marketer and Storyteller at Crayon Data.