Sport information is accessible to sports fans through an increasing number of technology devices such as mobile phones and virtual reality (VR). The competition for the attention of sports fans is increasing due to more content, mobile phone devices and time spent using digital technology. Teens are among the most active sports fans relying upon mobile phones for sport information.
Mark Craig of Cisco Systems Sports & Entertainment Group reports that 70 percent of fans bring a mobile device to the stadium or arena and expect to use it while watching the game.
“Sports is a people business, so we’re looking for ways to use technology to further engage with people,” said John Abbamondi, vice president of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Team Marketing & Business Operations division. Scanning a ticket on the mobile phone to enter the stadium or arena is an example of the use of this technology. “Each arena is like a lab,” Mr. Abbamondi continued. Sports businesses are always trying out new programs to learn what is successful in deepening fan engagement through sport information and building new revenue streams.
Chris Kluwe, National Football League (NFL) punter, explains, “People will now have another way to watch the game from the athlete’s perspective. From there, it leads to people becoming more comfortable with the idea of things like augmented reality and virtual reality, which leads into that being adopted more and more into everyday life. In the sporting world, that means augmented reality being adopted into the actual sports themselves.”
The merging of digital and physical environments changes the way fans watch sports. Digital technology has changed and enhanced the live sporting event viewing experience that takes watching a favorite game to a new level. The Pokemon Go app uses digital technology that complements a physical environment. Sport information innovation is changing the sports viewing landscape rapidly with the merging of digital and physical environments. Sports fans will have more choices in the future when it comes to enjoying their favorite sporting event.
Virtual Reality (VR) – Both professional athletes and sports fans benefit from VR technology. Sports players use VR to fine tool their skills and athletic ability. Sports fans use the virtual technology to immerse themselves in the action on the playing field. It will be as if they are sitting in the stands watching the game.
Live Video Streaming – Sports teams are starting to use this technology to expand globally reaching out to sports fans all around the world. Major League Baseball (MLB) has created a mobile app called At the Ballpark. This app provides real time video highlights from every baseball game, so that fans can have the same experience away from the stadium as those fans that watch the game from their seats in the stadium. Twitter collaborated with the National Football League (NFL) to stream some live Thursday night football matches. Other VR experiences include pre or post race strategies at the cycling velodrome or the pre-event music in the gymnastics arena.
Data Visualization – Several American sports have created data visualization dashboards that provide sports information to fans and help them learn more about their favorite team’s players. NBA Pulse uses social media to provide information about the more popular players to eager fans always wanting to know more about their favorite sports stars. The NBA has also created a dedicated statistics website. Fans and media can engage with basketball in new ways. Basketball managers can also use this data to analyze game plays and make important coaching decisions. Data visualization may also play a larger role in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo providing new and meaningful insights to viewers around the world.
Connected Stadiums – Real time sports information may be delivered to fans based on their stadium location at individual sporting events. For example, wireless transmitters such as iBeacons and NFC tags provide sports information to fans based upon their surroundings while in attendance at the game. Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco was one of the early pioneers of connected stadium technology. Many stadiums have or will soon have this capability for fans expecting information about food lines or souvenirs for eager fans to take home after the game.