Emerging technology is changing our lives in many ways, with sports being one of the areas where the most changes have been seen. Are the biggest advances in recent years helping to boost sports or are they causing more harm than good?
Streaming Is Bringing in More Fans
One of the most noticeable changes in the sports world has been the way that we can now stream content either live or after the event. This is extremely convenient but has led to worries that people may simply end up streaming all events rather than going to the games themselves.
The overall benefits of greater exposure should help bigger brands like Real Madrid and the Dallas Cowboys or the Golden State Warriors to monetise their global fan base more effectively. However, it could make it more difficult for smaller teams to compete, causing the gap between the richer and less rich teams to grow over time.
Research carried out by Norwegian investigators backed up this theory, as it suggested that showing national games live doesn’t harm attendance while importing games from bigger leagues can stop people from going to local games. This creates a difficult balance that some leagues are going to have to deal with to keep their own teams growing while satisfying consumer demand.
In this sense, it’s worth noting the factors that drive sports streaming searches in the UK. Football is the most popular sport and Liverpool leads the way ahead of other big teams like Manchester City and Spurs. However, the increase in interest in F1 streaming in 2022 has shown that other sports can gain ground when people start talking about it more and looking for something to watch.
Virtual Reality at Home vs Augmented Reality in the Stadium
Another issue to consider is whether staying at home or going to the stadium is going to provide a better experience in the future. We’ve already seen that streaming is making it easier to follow the action from anywhere, but what if virtual reality (VR) becomes a dominant way of enjoying a sports event at home?
Could this be even more exciting than actually being there? A couple of Chinese media giants are trying out a metaverse-style presentation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with 5G and VR. This leads to what has been described as a world-first type of interactive sports space, so we’ll need to wait to see what reviews come out of this project.
On the other hand, in-game options may now include augmented reality (AR). We’ve mainly seen this tech used in marketing campaigns so far, such as Coca-Cola’s offer for fans to play alongside Xherdan Shaqiri as part of their support for the 2018 World Cup. In the US, the Dallas Cowboys used AR to improve the fan experience by letting them take selfies at the stadium alongside their favourite players, and more initiatives like this should appear before too long.
This look at some of the most interesting types of technology being used in sports shows us that there are some big opportunities as well as challenges. It’s an existing time in the sports world and we’re going to hear a lot more about how technology is going to be used in different ways.