Fanatics: A Passionate Sports Enthusiast Enlivening Asian Sports Market through Digitalization
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Fanatics: A Passionate Sports Enthusiast Enlivening Asian Sports Market through Digitalization

The Western Connect Magazine - Keigo Uhira, Fanatics
Considering Keigo Uhira’s achievements, The Western Connect magazine engaged in an exclusive conversation with him; let’s read.

In today’s era, digital technology has opened up unprecedented development opportunities in the sports sector, with the potential to bring fans closer together through personalized experiences. To maximize this opportunity, an innovative approach that can streamline people, processes, and technology to bring forth the amalgamation of technology in the sports field is the way forward. Speaking of an individual who has dedicated his years of artistry and passion towards sports to bridge the gap between sports fans and preeminent sports partners is Keigo Uhira, Business Development Director of Fanatics Japan. A value-driven leader, Keigo Uhira is on a mission to re-energize the Asian sports market through innovative products and service deliverability.

Keigo’s enthusiasm and love for sports have always motivated him to spearhead Fanatics Japan’s operational success. Keigo spent his childhood in the United States, where he became a fan of all the country’s major sports. As a result, this sheer passion for different sports motivated him to harness the needed skill sets to cater to the stakeholders involved in the world of sports through digital intervention.

Give a brief account of your professional journey.
I started my journey as a strategic consultant for McKinsey & Company in its Tokyo office, where I gained an immense understanding of how a business operates. After that, I moved to another strategic consulting firm specializing in sports. Following that, I joined Fanatics Japan in 2018.

Shed light on the positioning of Fanatics today.
Fanatics has been leveraging long-standing, often exclusive relationships with more than 900 sports properties and a database of more than 80 million consumers worldwide. Our partners include all the major sports leagues in the United States, and we are also rapidly expanding throughout Europe and Japan.

Towards the end of 2022, we signed a comprehensive long-term global partnership deal with Nike and the Yomiuri Giants. The three organizations have formed a new exclusive partnership involving Japanese history’s most successful baseball team. Sees Fanatics exclusively operates the Yomiuri Giants’ e-commerce and physical retail business. As part of the partnership, Nike has become the official uniform supplier of the Yomiuri Giants. At the same time, Fanatics manufactures and distributes The uniforms worn by players during games, as well as equipment and accessories that may impact player performance, provided by Nike. Additionally, Nike produces and sells fan merchandise, such as jerseys and clothing, which can be purchased both in physical retail stores and online.

The Yomiuri Giants have become the first individual club in global sport to adopt this model, which is fully operationalized and proven successful for all parties in similar partnerships between Nike and Fanatics with major professional leagues and Universities in the USA.

Over the last 12 years, Fanatics has witnessed rapid growth in the United States. It is an organization of highly qualified and motivated professionals dedicated to amplifying fans’ pride and forging ties with their teams. Further, intending to build a leading global digital sports platform, Fanatics brings a whole gamut of offerings, including e-commerce and licensed merchandise, physical and digital trading cards and collectibles, and online sports betting and iGaming.”

What do you perceive as the most significant difficulties facing the sports industry in Asia, and how is Fanatics Japan working to overcome them?
The sports industry in Asia faces numerous challenges, including a lack of infrastructure, insufficient funding, and a lack of fan engagement. At Fanatics Japan, we aim to tackle these issues by developing innovative products and services that cater to the specific needs of Asian sports enthusiasts. We also work to build strong relationships with local sports organizations and teams to increase fan engagement and awareness of the sports industry.

One of our key initiatives is to bring digitalization to the sports industry in Asia. Using technology, we can improve the fan experience and offer personalized and engaging content to sports enthusiasts. This includes offering mobile apps that allow fans to follow their favorite teams and players, live streaming of games and events, and online merchandise stores where fans can purchase licensed products.

How would you guide individuals aspiring to become sports industry entrepreneurs?
I suggest having a clear vision of what you want to achieve and remaining focused on your goals. Developing a robust work ethic is crucial, and dedication to your passion is vital. The highly competitive sports industry and success often require hard work, determination, and resilience.

Additionally, I recommend seeking mentors and networking with other professionals in the industry. Learning from the experiences and insights of others can be invaluable in developing your skills and strategies.

Lastly, be adaptable and open to change. The sports industry is constantly evolving, and successful entrepreneurs need to be able to anticipate and adapt to changes in the market and consumer preferences.

In conclusion, Keigo Uhira’s passion for sports and digital technology has enabled Fanatics Japan to make significant strides in the Asian sports market. By leveraging its long-standing relationships with sports properties and innovative digitalization approach, Fanatics Japan is well-positioned for continued success in the industry. Keigo’s leadership and dedication to excellence inspire aspiring entrepreneurs in the sports industry and beyond.

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