This is not your grandfather’s sporting experience. From the fan experience to athlete’s performance, the sports industry has evolved, and with the help of disruptive technologies, will continue to do so. Read on to learn how technology is shaping and changing the sports industry.

Public Engagement Through Digital and Social Media

Not able to watch your favorite team play in their big game? 20 years ago, this was a disappointing experience for many sports fans. Not only because they were missing the game, but because they had to wait until the next day to catch the results in the paper or hear about it from friends.

Advances in technology allows information to be shared instantly as it’s happening. Now, fans can watch, record, replay on the device of their choosing, from any location. News updates can be quickly sent to smartphones in just seconds. Many news channels now have phone apps that can send quick notifications to smartphones the moment the news occurs.

There has been a steady introduction of technology into the world of sports over the last few years amplifying fan involvement and appreciation of the game. With social media, fans can engage with their favorite teams like never before. What kind of social media fan are you?

Social media has enhanced athletes’ public profiles and allowed for public discussions on preferred training methods. Athletes have a bigger influence than ever and its open doors to new monetizable channels for businesses to pursue. The divide between fan and star athletes has been bridged using platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to connect with their favorite players, allowing athletes to actively connect with their fans.

Fantasy sports is another outlet for sports fans to experience the sporting world digitally. Fans can have fun with their favorite teams and players on a whole new level. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, more than 59 million people played fantasy sports in 2017 and it has led to fans watching more live games.

The rise of daily fantasy and sports betting has created an economy of its own. Though it is still an emerging industry, Coherent Market Insights valued the online betting and gambling market at $46.9 billion in 2017 and is estimated to hit the $123.5 billion mark by 2026, showing a CAGR of 11.4% over the projected time.

The infiltration of online sports betting has trended beyond desktops and laptops. Today, about 20% of sport betting activities now happen through smartphones. Most recently, a media company has become a sports betting company with the owner of a popular and controversial digital sports publisher, Barstool Sports, selling to Penn National Gaming, a regional gambling operator. It is said that Penn National plans to use Barstool’s brand to bring traffic to its casinos and an online betting app it wants to launch. The global sports betting industry is growing at a record rate and is not about to slow down any time soon.

Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Big data and artificial intelligence are changing the world of sports. Most sports produce huge amounts of data; therefore, advanced data mining and machine learning techniques are having a major impact on sports data analytics.

Professional teams and stakeholders are increasingly hiring machine learning experts to help optimize not only marketing, ticket sales, and fan engagement but also draft selection, player evaluation, and game-day decision making. Technology solutions for these new challenges in the emerging area of sports analytics have technology companies jumping at the challenge, such as Adobe who has introduced an AI-powered insights tool to help NFL fans with their fantasy football teams.

The market for sports analytics is expected to reach almost $4.6 billion by 2025, as it helps a variety of sports organizations in a range of areas. Analytics have become more prevalent in the industry and will only increase as the deluge of data increases.

Cloud-Based Analytics Platforms

The future of sports is data dependent and with tools, such as cloud-based analytics platform Microsoft Sports Performance, more organizations can manage their needs with flexibility, security and scalability. These types of cloud-based solutions provide teams and coaches with critical information, aggregated and visualized team and player stats, and provides predictive outcome modeling to track and improve athlete and team performance. It can be customized to track and improve athlete and team so coaches can view trends while combining player’s heart rate, speed, acceleration and deceleration on the field.

For these organizations, having the ability to quickly scale up and down processing capacity when needed changes the cost curve for producing content. Combining data into live dashboards to help shape training regimens for improved recovery and reduce injury are improving the industry. Microsoft Power BI, Microsoft Azure, and Surface devices help power these dashboard services and allows consumers to view content at anytime, anywhere on every connected device.

Video: Microsoft Cloud

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Behind the Scenes at S.L. Benfica's Football Campus

Virtual & Mixed Reality

The sports and entertainment industry are now harnessing the power of VR by creating events that submerse viewers in their experience. Virtual reality company, NextVR, has teamed with NBA Digital to produce and broadcast live NBA games in VR using their technology.

This VR technology has already begun to impact the sports industry as savvy sports organizations have begun to use VR tech to assist in training their athletes and helping them avoid injuries. Medical students are now studying anatomy on a virtual level and makes it possible for sportsmen and women to become accustomed to highly stressful situations in simulations to improve performance.

With the rise in Fantasy Football, parallel participation in virtual sports could become increasingly immersive in the world of online gaming. Already, A FIFA Interactive World Cup Competition was organized in New York, featuring 32 finalists chosen from 2.3 million original entrants. The virtual competition was aired by Fox Sports in the USA, and internationally, through affiliates such as Sky UK, Sky New Zealand, and FOX Sports Australia.

The digital transformation happening in the sports and entertainment business primarily focuses on marketing and increasing revenue. But the exciting thing is they also focus user experience and engagement and getting content to audiences where and when they want it, on whatever device they’re using.

Are you interested in learning how you can incorporate these trends into your growing organization? Contact us today to see how technology can transform your business.