Digital technology is shaping many aspects of people’s lives, and the sports world is no exception. The sports technology market was estimated to be worth $8.9 billion in 2018, and by 2024, that number is expected to grow to $31.1 billion. From individual professional teams to league-wide adoption and beyond, technology is helping sports organizations create new business opportunities and find compelling ways to engage their fan base. Below are a few of the most innovative applications and some predictions for tech’s impact on the future of the sports landscape.
Game Day: Technology on the Field and Throughout the Stadium
Athletes are Bigger, Faster, Stronger
Advanced technology is helping athletes up their game and get ahead of the competition. Through wearables, sensors, RFID chips and augmented reality, players can glean data and identify insights into their performance – allowing them to identify new training methods in ways that weren’t possible even in the recent past. These training analytics are helping athletes avoid injury, improve recovery times and – at the professional level – ultimately perform better out on the field.
Engaging the Modern Fan
According to Deloitte, “Fan engagement is central to driving [fans] to the stadiums, convincing them to spend over $50 billion annually on their favorite teams and leagues, and developing bonds strong enough to push a fan from their first ballgame to a life-long attachment.”
Professional teams are investing heavily to enhance the modern fan experience through technology. Here are a few recent examples:
The Moneyball Era and the Rise of Sports Gambling
The sports world has taken enormous strides recently in its ability to collect data, analyze these large data sets and determine how the resulting insights can drive positive outcomes on the field. The 2011 film Moneyball was a great depiction of how the Oakland A’s were ahead of the curve in the industry when it came to using analytics to assess player talents, which [spoiler alert] ultimately helped the team win 20 consecutive games. Today, with advanced business intelligence (BI) tools, teams are using data not only to help develop internal talent but also scout the competition and understand the tendencies of the opposition.
Within the last few years, many U.S. states have legalized recreational sports gambling. In addition to taking advantage of the enormous influx of data analytics within the industry, this emerging market will use advanced data to help calculate odds, predict winners and assist leagues to find new ways to engage fans through fantasy sports and wagering platforms.
The Sports Tech of the Future
A new emerging market in the sports world is professional gaming, and news surrounding esports seems to be making headlines every week. It is estimated that the “sport will soon be a $1 billion business with a global audience of over 300 million fans.” The popularity of gaming and esports has grown so quickly and attracted so many younger fans that it’s even being considered for the 2024 Olympic games in Paris.
And while there might be pushback from the “traditional” sports fan, all signs point to gaming becoming the sport of the future, as the implementation of gaming technology and club programs keep popping up in both grade schools and colleges across the globe.
Currently, there are 151 colleges and universities that are members of the National Association of Collegiate Esports and offer officially recognized varsity esports programs. The number of these programs and students engaged as both spectators and participants continue to increase, and according to recent reports, it’s expected that “the esports market is likely to surpass $6 billion by the end of 2028 due to sizeable sponsorships, growing smartphone adoption, the introduction of virtual reality and ameliorating esports infrastructure.” With virtual sports having such high growth potential, it’s leading many to ask the question: could gaming overtake “traditional” sports in popularity in the future?
Advanced technologies are undoubtedly having a significant impact on every aspect of the sports world. And as innovations evolve within the industry, we can expect that additional opportunities will continue to arise to help improve athletes’ performances, revolutionize the way games are played and ultimately find new ways to enhance the fan experience.
Author: Jason Wilson, Account Associate, Outlook Marketing Services
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