The sports industry and the market it is catering to are undergoing a rapid transformation. In Europe and North America, audiences don’t show interest in traditional sports programming. The ratings for sports shows on TV are also dwindling. It isn’t because fans aren’t eager to follow up on their favorite games but because they are switching over to new mediums. In fact, they are consuming even more sports-related shows and information but on every platform, other than TV. Their consumption habits are being influenced by something even greater – sports technology.
Technologies that have permeated the sports field
Experts in the sports industry are now observing several new viewing technology preferences. They are live streaming, mobile applications, over-the-top service delivery, augmented reality, virtual reality, social video, and more. Such channels have one more advantage over a standard television; that they can also deliver real-time performance insights and game highlights in addition to live matches.
Together they form the new digital landscape that has changed how fans view the game. It is also just one way that technology has impacted the global sports industry. Other factors have facilitated the use of these channels like the fast adoption of smartphones, easier access, and improvements made to internet connectivity. Then there’s the use of various social media channels that is accessible to everyone.
One result is that fans don’t have to go to a stadium or stay glued to their television sets. Because these technologies used in the sports industry give them more viewing flexibility. The other result is that these marked changes have significant implications for the sports industry. It indicating that it is in a state of evolution that they need to be prepared to respond to.
What facilitated the increased use of technology in sports?
Experts surmise that it’s the social networks that started this evolutionary sports technology tsunami wave. Popular channels like Twitter, WeChat, Facebook, and Snapchat permanently modified how we consume any information with mobile video at the heart of information. This growth in the use of digital sports technology and social videos has been very rapid in the last few years. This is expected to accelerate in the upcoming years too in most of the major markets.
Nowadays when a fan wants to watch an event or get post-game data, they know which channels to choose from. Just like other consumers in other industries, they have several choices but social media networks are the most preferable.
These platforms offer immediate and global access to access and deliver content, thereby building a more direct connection with consumers. Broadcasting and other sporting event companies either share the content directly or via video clips to the fans. The information is then shared by these fans to the other fans. This raises the engagement levels and personalizes the content.
Where are the sports technology trends headed?
The more recent introductions to technologies used in the sports industry are live streaming or OTT platforms like Hulu, Pluto TV, MSG Network, NBC Sports, NESN, etc. Such channels are viewed on devices like the Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox One and 360, Nintendo Switch, and more. Broadcast quality streams are also available on social media platforms offering a live experience to those who aren’t at home or near a TV. To expand this digital experience even further, sports leagues, athletes, sporting organizations, and broadcast companies are offering exclusive digital content to break down any possible barriers.
Broadcasting an event using such sports technology creates an ecosystem that is built around the user, following their consumption pattern. In order to cater to this consumption pattern, broadcasters, rights-holders have to rely on technology as well. For example, BT Sport was the first to stream the Champions League final in 2017 using 360 VR via YouTube and their dedicated BT Sports apps.
Consumption pattern changes in the global sports industry
It was a small event but one that reflected such consumption pattern changes in the global sports industry. It boosted the use of VR apps and headgear as it provided a unique experience to the fans. VR technology used in watching a match helps bring the action closer to the fans. This lets them choose their viewing angles and determine whether they want to watch using mobiles or VR headsets. It also granted them access to exclusive content that wasn’t shown on TV.
Sports technologies used nowadays
Technology like AR and VR guaranteed even more benefits from a live-streamed event; it also facilitated a change in sports that was free of regional limitations. That is, fans wouldn’t be limited by the country they lived in or geographical proximity when it came to watching an event.
VR technology can change game experience, point of view, generate revenues, increases engagement within the global sports industry. The global sports industry now has to consider other technological points of contact through which they can deliver content like wearable technologies, live streaming, performance tracking, social media, and performance tracking.
Consumers rely on these access points as it delivers more information, more content that is brought directly to them. Fans now don’t need to go out to find information – they would prefer to have it brought to them.
Years ago, one would have to stay close to a TV set to collect score points, teams’ losses, and wins. Today, we can have all that delivered to our phones, including highlights, and catch up to know the results.
In the distant future, our smartphones may no longer be able to do that; deliver in-play highlights, live tweets, images, and video clips about an event. Fans will like the ability to be able to be there where the action is, to access devices that can guarantee a closer look at the real thing. Consumers would also like the opportunity to be able to choose when, where and how they watch content on their favorite device or platform. Broadcasters may then need to deliver updates directly and in real-time.
The kind of experiences we enjoy via social media will change as this technology gets better too. For example, there’s the possibility that we may move on from Twitter feeds, WhatsApp groups and start discussing game highlights and gameplay in full virtual rooms.
Such virtual rooms may replicate that feeling of sharing a couch with friends – a feeling very similar to multiplayer streaming on new XBOX games; where one plays a game with other players regardless of where they’re located. Eventually, the technologies we have will let us do this, only then we will be watching a live football game!!