Mobile ad exec scores pro baseball team, plans to test tech innovations
- Anthony Iacovone, CEO of mobile advertising firm AdTheorent, has purchased a majority stake in the professional baseball team New Britain Bees, according to a report in the Hartford Courant.
- The deal gives Iacovone the ability to experiment with next-generation technology to enrich connections with fans and energize New Britain Stadium while retaining the Bees' commitment to family-friendly, affordable entertainment.
- “Just like mobile advertising, the way baseball clubs engage with their fans is ripe for innovation," Iacovone said in a statement. "Blending the right elements of technology and tradition will enhance the fan experience, increase team and player engagement and most of all, provide even more fun for the spectators."
At the start of Major League Baseball’s season this year, Mary Pilon, writing in the New York Post, deftly summed up the problem facing baseball: its fans are too male, too white, too old. The Washington Post’s Marc Fisher also places baseball’s youth dilemma within the context of larger societal changes, and the sport’s reputation for boring, slow games doesn’t help matters.
Cognizant of the challenges imperiling baseball’s future, both the MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association have revved up their social media machines. MLB has inked a deal with Snapchat, and MLBPA has released an app called Infield Chatter to build a social community.
Against that backdrop, Anthony Iacovone has scooped up a professional team that plays in front of crowds of under 6,200 people. In his presentation of the new team owner, Atlantic League president Rick White said Iacovone comes to the Bees with a “dynamic personality” and a “vision for how baseball can become more entertaining to fans.”
Although there aren’t details of that vision yet, it’s not hard to see Iacovone using the Bees’ players and its stadium as his literal and virtual playing field for technological advancements worth testing out.
Iacovone bought the Connecticut-based team from Frank Boulton and Michael Pfaff, who are both expected to stay involved in operations. Boulton founded the independent Atlantic League two decades ago. Last year, it became the first independent league to sign an agreement with Major League Baseball (MLB). Over 40% of Atlantic League players experience the major leagues at some point in their playing careers.
MLB already scouts Bees’ players and perhaps the league should now be scouting the team’s tech, too.
- Hartford Courant New Britain Bees Get New Owner
- New York Post As baseball loses young fans, can the game be saved?
- The Washington Post Baseball is struggling to hook kids — and risks losing fans to other sports