2019 will be the year of experimentation for sports organizations, thanks to personalization capabilities brought on by new technologies and the proliferation of sports betting.
We are witnessing a revolutionary period in how fans experience sports. Gone are the days when enjoying sports involves simply sitting in a stadium or in front of a screen as a viewer. Thanks to technology, fans want more.
They don’t want to just know the end score, they want to know how their favorite team got there. They don’t want to just witness a home run, they want to know how far it was hit and how many home runs were hit by the player in specific situations. They don’t want to just guess how many points will be scored, they want to place money on it and be rewarded for it. They want to share moments with fans worldwide, be the most knowledgeable, wear their team’s colors.
Thanks to technology, fans can have much more.
The challenge, then, is for sports teams, media, venues and associated companies to stay ahead of the game by offering innovative ways to engage sports fans’ interest and imaginations through enhanced experiences. This race is a blessing for sports fans. But the beauty also lies in the opportunities it offers businesses. If done right, this can help create richer stories, build audiences, retain supporters, generate more targeted marketing initiatives and therefore reap even more commercial benefits and proven ROI.
I foresee three trends that will make the sports fan experience even better.
When it comes to watching live sports, traditionally the trend has been for broadcasters to produce a single transmission designed to appeal to the masses, targeting the widest audience possible to watch the event. More recently, Regional Sports Networks, or RSNs, have presented sports programming to audiences based on their geographical region.
Some, however, have already taken steps well beyond this. For example, there are services offering subscribers personalized vantage options, which include hundreds of different camera angles with which to watch a game. There are also services that allow subscribers to choose different broadcasters if they’re looking for a different viewing experience. Meanwhile, there are digital sports properties that are attracting large audiences to social videos that capture their personalities enjoying the big games – creating entertainment out of watching people watch sports, rather than watching the game itself. It’s personalization personified!
In 2019, we’re going to start witnessing even more options for the consumption of live sports. This is likely to incorporate elements that will utilize more advanced and live statistics, methods for attracting casual fans, increased entertainment through humor, and, of course, betting. It is expected to be a year of experimentation for media companies looking to provide fans with even more options for engaging with their favorite leagues, teams and players in an effort to achieve greater personalization.
2. Interactivity and Gamification
Over-the-top (OTT) provides the perfect platform to create and deliver unique experiences for sports consumption. More and more we are likely to see sports and media organizations invest in this technology as a way of owning and branding the content and viewing experience. OTT has the ability to combine sports broadcast with a host of other content solutions to increase interactivity through engagement and entertainment like betting, statistics and gamification. The effects can be twofold, providing fans with a more appealing experience, while giving businesses a greater ability to retain audiences, increase their time on site and target through specific marketing offers.
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The “second screen” has exploded in the last 10 years due to its ability to provide fans with an enhanced viewing experience, again offering new ways to consume content while watching sports. This kind of phenomenon will forever transform fan behavior with audiences now seeking data and information to go with their sports viewing to bring them even closer to the action and their favorite players.
Moving forward, as live game streams increasingly become more available, there will be significant competition amongst media rights holders and platforms to create the best viewing destination for sports fans. The best offerings will be those that are designed to enable the consumer to go deeper into the game using things like increased and altering camera angles, unique contextual content, gamification and other methods for rewarding user engagement.
3. Real-Time Fan Engagement
Creating sporting moments The sports world is a dynamic, ever-changing environment with exciting and amazing moments occurring at any point. This creates ample opportunities for brands to engage sports fans. Being able to capture the live unanticipated moments of sports, while extremely effective, can prove difficult to navigate through. The question that marketers, and others trying to engage sports fans, will increasingly need to answer is “how can I get the right message to the right fan at the right time?” This is required if companies want to leverage unique sporting moments by capturing the time and attention of sports fans.
Marketing in the Moment Brands drive the sports industry, partnering with sports properties and athletes to help tell their story. In an increasingly competitive, cluttered media landscape, brands will evolve their storytelling to align more with their partner’s experience, making it more real, in the moment, and, again, personalized. Digital advertising, on-site activations, retail and social media content will tell a platform-tailored version of the same message that changes in real-time to achieve this extra level of engagement and personal, time-specific touch.
Platforms that sell tickets, merchandise, apparel, or any sports-related products will become dynamic experiences, reflecting moments on the field. For example, if Anthony Rizzo hits a home run and a Cubs fan logs onto an e-commerce platform at a similar time, they will see a Rizzo jersey on the landing page, possibly with additional information and context around the play that just occurred.
The wagering industry is also likely to utilize this “moments-driven” approach, with bookmaker marketing reflecting live sports betting opportunities. In fact, bookmakers are poised to become the leader and catalyst of widespread marketing in the moment. Currently, over 80% of bets are placed live, in-game, so determining what the current odds are and how to get them in front of the right people at the right time is important. Digital advertising especially will be a key driver of this. It will be very interesting to see what in-arena activations can also be tailored to this given that fans enjoy the second screen experience anywhere any time, even if they are live at the game.
Brian Josephs, Vice President of Digital Sport at Sportradar, is a well-versed sales executive that has been working in the industry for just under a decade. Before joining Sportradar, Josephs worked with Pathgather and Repucom.