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The View From Asia: The Rise Of Singapore As A Sporting Destination

September 5, 2023

In his View From Asia column, Unmish Parthasarathi, the Singapore-based Founder of Picture Board Partners, the Strategy, Innovation & Venture Development boutique, highlights the formidable sporting position of Singapore in Asia.

Two Fridays ago, about a hundred local, regional and international decision makers in Sport convened at the Singapore Cricket Club for the inaugural edition of the STF (Sport Tech Finance) Asia Leadership Conclave. Promoted by Picture Board Partners, this by-invitation forum was a first for the region. The Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) played co-hosts ahead of their first Asian Open race that weekend in the Lion City.

Singapore is at the epicentre of the next billion fans, who will play, participate and partner with a variety of sports codes. Government agencies such as Sport Singapore (aka Sport SG) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) have brought new competition formats such as World Table Tennis, FIBA 3×3 Basketball and most recently, Triathlon with the PTO.  During the same period, the City State has welcomed more than 500 single family offices and continued to be the regional headquarters of Big Tech ranging from American brands such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Akamai or Cisco to Byte Dance of China and TCS (Tata Consulting Services) of India. 

All this comes at a time when the Sports industry per se, whether that is from media, events, tech, real estate or materials (shoes, apparel, equipment), is worth $100-$120 Billion in Asia, a 20%-25% of global share and set to double by 2030, due to rising year on year percentage growth numbers.

Set against this macroeconomic context, the rationale for a Leadership Conclave that would enable Captains of Sport, to mingle with counter parts in Deep Tech & High Finance seemed inevitable. Adding government and entrepreneurs into the mix, created a healthy critical mass of professionals who rarely meet but are united by the wide range of value Sport can provide to their remits and ambitions.

Chatham House Rules was the norm, creating a comfortable environment for open admissions and honest conversations. What emerged was an exchange of ideas, ambitions, and even emotions, amongst a select group who compete for business on one hand and are united by a focus on the fan on the other. 

  • Peter Hutton kicked us off with a keynote that debunked the myth of short attention spans and, instead, encouraged us to find ways for fans to play with the narrative.
  • Euan Smith (Astro) and Jay Ganesan (Amagi) shared how technology enables to Casual Fan, an often ignored segment, and allows niche sports to access mainstream attention.
  • Sam Renouf (Founder & CEO, PTO) shared his vision for a ‘sports rights holder of the future’, and was self-effacing in sharing a photo from two decades ago, when he was paid a paltry sum to compete for Team GB. 
  • The Holy Trifecta of content, code and capital was discussed between an agency (Echo Li, Dentsu), government (Roy Teo, Sport SG) and a venture capital backed event (Jesley Chu, ONE Championship) 
  • A conversation about ‘Sports OTT 2.0’ revealed new trends such Gamified Viewing at Vidio (Hermawan Sutanto), localised tune-in at SPOTV (CK Lee) and democratising access by Pixellot (Christopher Yap). 
  • Investor interest in Data was linked to AI graduating from its Predictive origins to Generative ambitions as seen by Magnifi (Vinayak Shrivastav), World Table Tennis (Michael Brown) and Quidich Innovation (Rahat Kulshreshtha). 
  • In his closing comments, Chris Kermode (Chairman, PTO) remarked on the breadth of conversations that reflected the diverse yet enduring quality of Sport – with content that always promises the unexpected and an industry that is set to embark on its next phase of growth enabled by code and capital. 

Feedback to the inaugural edition of the STF Asia Leadership Conclave has been positive. A good mix of people & priorities coupled with a private, intimate setting were cited as its biggest benefits.  

To participate, promote or partner next April 2024, please email  

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