How will sports technology change in 2018?

With changes in the industry already underway in 2018, Delete’s UX director Tom Dougherty, looks ahead to the rest of the year and explores what else is to come from the world of technology in sport.

With changes in the industry already underway in 2018, Delete’s UX director Tom Dougherty, looks ahead to the rest of the year and explores what else is to come from the world of technology in sport.

More Live Streaming on Social

2018 will be the year we see more live sports being streamed via social channels, as these platforms start preparing to become the go-to-destinations for live sporting events in the near future.

We’ll see Facebook, Amazon, YouTube and Twitter trailing new features and functionalities over the year, as they gear up to become exclusive rights holders of live sports content. This in turn means we may start to see changes in how live sports are covered pre and post event, through new ways of interacting with the audience.

Throughout 2017, sports clubs experimented with the likes of Facebook Live and Instagram Live, using these platforms to stream footage of team warm ups, half-time shows, and post match reaction. I think we’ll see the format of this type of content being more influenced by the platforms themselves, taking advantage of the features on offer, with increased direct fan involvement and interaction. Fan engagement of this type, is already established in the US within College Football where its commonplace for fans viewing through Facebook Live to pose questions directly to players during the game and take part in curated chats throughout the event. 2018 could be the year where we see clubs and teams in the UK focusing more of their live coverage efforts on these channels, with exclusive content and increased fan participation.

State of the art Stadium

This year will see the opening of Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium in North London which promises to be - according to the club - ‘the most technologically advanced stadium in the world’, aiming to set new standards for the connected stadium of the future. This would suggest the stadium itself has been built with the right level of infrastructure to support this vision. I expect the club will offer connected benefits for the visiting fan, but I’m hoping they will go beyond this and deliver digital experiences around matchday that have a much wider appeal for the non-attendee too. For example, this could be delivered through an immersive match day app, or via their club website.

Spurs' new stadium, with retractable pitch for NFL and football matches

This exclusive ‘access-all-areas’ content will start to become increasingly necessary for rights holders to own a piece of the fan’s attention on matchday, as more and more platforms and broadcasters compete for audience share. Tottenham have an opportunity to bring a flavour of the excitement of attending a live home match to their global fan base through an immersive matchday experience. This allows them to be part of the build up through live 360 camera views, team warm ups from within the stadium, tunnel views and crowd atmosphere. As a club and leading sports brand, they have an opportunity to lead the way, so it will be interesting to see how far they take this and how ambitious they are.

Data Visualisation

As more digital and technology companies move into the sports space, we are seeing the growth in how performance data is being tracked, monitored, processed and visualised in real-time to enhance the fan experience. Data capture and processing is second nature to these organisations, and therefore, implementing the technology and infrastructure to power it is well within their capability.

For many years, this level of athlete and team data has not fully been exposed to fans in any great detail and is instead being used as a tool for scouting and performance analysis inside clubs themselves. But recently, there have been significant deals struck with technology companies and major leagues in the US to bring game and player data to the forefront of the viewing fan's experience. 

I expect we will see broadcasters, platforms and clubs using their channels to deliver an enhanced data experience to compliment the live viewing experience for fans. This could be achieved through richer data visualisation, 'Next-gen stats', augmented screen overlays and predictive real-time analysis for betting and gamification. As clubs and teams look for new strategies for their own websites and apps to support live coverage - data presentation and analysis could become a key aspect of these platforms in providing a sticky second screen experience.
 
Article fist published on Sportsindustry, 6th Feb 2018 - you can read more at sportsindusrty.biz. Or, if you wish to discover more about the value and impact Delete can create for your brand, please get in touch.
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