Technology has transformed numerous industries during the 21st century, and that is certainly the case where the sport is concerned.
The global sports technology market was valued at more than $24 billion in 2019 and is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 13.5 percent during 2024-2027.
An increasing number of leagues coupled with developments in the sports industry has created substantial opportunities for companies in the sector.
Technology is radically changing many elements of the sport, from the way media outlets such as Sportslens.com cover football to the way that fans engage with their favorite clubs and players. Read on as we look at the future of sports technology and find out what experts have been saying about those developments.
5G Ready to Make Its Mark
Improvements in internet technology have transformed how fans consume sports content, and the arrival of 5G will continue that trend.
5G tech will also have a significant impact on numerous other elements of the sport, including in-stadium experiences, live betting, data analysis, and more. Many clubs in the National Hockey League (NHL) have already installed 5G in preparation for the next wave of innovations to impact the sport.
The recent announcement of a link-up between Rogers Communications, Sportsnet, and the University of Waterloo demonstrates why NHL clubs have made that move.
The Sportsnet Hockey Hack: Powered by Rogers 5G offers students the opportunity to design applications to enhance the fan experience for Sportsnet viewers.
This will use Rogers’ 5G technology and data from the NHL’s Puck and Player Tracking system used during the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Potential solutions may involve augmented reality and second-screen experiences, as well as fantasy and other gaming or e-Commerce applications.
Jorge Fernandes, Chief Technology and Information Officer at Rogers Communications said: “5G is at our doorstep and it’s poised to change the world as we know it.
“Fan engagement is a very interesting use-case and one that will really benefit from the ultra-low latency of this next-generation technology.
“Our work with the University of Waterloo focuses on bringing together our country’s brightest minds to advance Canada’s 5G roadmap, and I’m excited to see what the students come up with at this hackathon.”
Second Screen Boost for Fans
Second screen experiences will become the norm over the next few years, further enhancing the way fans engage with their chosen sport.
The recent link-up between AI sports tech specialists Stats Perform and streaming solutions provider NativeWaves highlights where things may be heading.
The new partnership between the two firms gives soccer fans a fully synchronized and personalized live experience on their second-screen devices.
The tool allows users to choose video angles, data, and information, thus creating a bespoke second screen experience that can be leveraged by broadcast and OTT providers.
Eva Wimmers, CEO of NativeWaves said: “Combining the vast array of data, analytics, and insights from Stats Perform with the technology from NativeWaves allows us to complement each other and create a unique experience that offers broadcasters a range of monetization opportunities.
Stats Perform and NativeWaves are initially targeting soccer, but plan to roll out the service across other sports in the future. Wayne Ford, SVP global partners, and channels for Stats Perform believes that the collaboration will transform the way that fans watch sports.
“The new solution combines NativeWaves’ ultra-low latency streaming and synchronization capabilities with Stats Perform’s advanced data and sports insights,” he said.
“It lets fans watch a match using the video angle and information they care about the most. This is the future of sports viewership, and we are thrilled to kick off this project with NativeWaves.”
Sports Podcasts on the Rise
The perception of podcasting has undoubtedly changed in recent years, with shows such as The Joe Rogan Podcast helping the genre cross into the mainstream. Spotify has been quick to latch on to this growing phenomenon, as evidenced by their recent acquisitions of The Ringer, Gimlet Media, Anchor FM, and Parcast.
Daniel Ek, the Spotify chief executive, described the deal for The Ringer as ‘basically getting the new ESPN’, thus demonstrating the value of the sports element of the equation.
The popularity of podcasts for the likes of Spotify can largely be explained by their ability to act as an extremely effective marketing tool.
Engagement and conversion rates are much greater than other traditional mediums, making them an attractive proposition to advertisers.
Iain Macintosh, who founded the Muddy Knees Media (MKM) podcast network which he sold to The Athletic, believes that the sports podcast industry will boom over the coming years.
During a recent interview with SportsPro, MacIntosh said that one of the reasons he felt confident about starting MKM was due to a story he read in the Sunday Times business section.
“A massive global conglomerate were cutting their online advertising by 50 percent because they said they just didn’t know where it was going – it was popping up on Al Qaeda recruitment videos on YouTube,” he said.
“Having that money come out means it is going to come back in somewhere, and a podcast audience is the best place to advertise. You know the people and you know what makes them tick because you know the show.
“You know that they are not tuning in to a station that has a slate of shows, they are tuning into that show specifically. So, it is a very good way of reaching people if you have got the scale to make it work for you.
“When we started in 2017, we were in those final stages of having a conversation about a podcast and someone would go: ‘I am sorry, I don’t want to sound stupid, but what is a podcast?’ By 2018, that had pretty much dribbled away.
“Now, you know, that Roosevelt quote: ‘When my barber tells me to buy a stock, I know it is time to sell.’ When my barber tells me about his new podcast, that is when there might be a kind of widespread penetration. But podcasts are a thing and they are here to stay.”