In recent years the growth of sports has been propelled even further by the increasing accessibility and globalisation of online video from federations, leagues, competitions, teams and players.
Where teams were once hugely popular in their local area, nowadays fanbases can be propped up by a committed, loyal and engaging overseas following. These fans can consume and interact with the team from a distance in a way only traditionally thought possible by attending matches in person.
Funding and sponsorship have always been crucial to sports development and of course rely on the level of interest in the sports organisation in question. Now, by leveraging new digital channels, these organisations have far more opportunities than ever to build their fanbases, grow their sport and increase their revenues.
In 2019, we should expect to see new initiatives and offerings from organisations as they look to enable wider audiences to consume their sport through new technologies, wherever they are.
Here as some recent examples that highlight such intentions:
- La Liga uses Facebook to provide free social streaming in India
Reaching wider audience is a clear trend in the industry for all the reasons we’ve highlighted above but equally because it is far more cost-effective to do so. By harnessing the huge user base of Facebook, La Liga will be able to stream matches live to fans in India for free, building awareness and engagement in the region.
- FA Cup sends highlights to international fans
Similarly, the FA Cup now offers to deliver game highlights to fans in Africa, America and the Middle East for free through Twitter direct messages. Fans simply choose from a selection of the larger teams competing in the competition and then receive 30 second clips during and after the matches that take place.
- Bundesliga employs AI localised content
The Bundesliga became the first European league to utilise AI to produce and deliver geo-targeted video to fans across the world. This enables them to serve footage that features international stars to audiences in their home nation. Similar instances have previously been adopted by NBA and Cricket Australia.
- NBA innovates with game delivery
The NBA has been a pioneer in trialing and embracing new technology to deliver content to fans. Their latest move is to tweak their online vod subscription (League Pass) so audiences can pay solely to tune into specific quarters within the game – with the final quarter bearing the larger price.
- PGA Tour lets fan choose which group to follow through Twitter
The PGA tour are expanding their own use of Twitter to stream over 140 hours of free content to audiences. Alongside this, they are also introducing a new feature which enables fans to use the social media platform to choose which of two featured groups they follow.
- Player choice introduced by NBA on Twitter
Innovating further, the NBA has also announced their intention to offer a free live stream on Twitter which focuses purely on one player whom is voted for by fans for that game. Although this is also based around fan control, it does provide a new angle in which to follow sports streams within social media feeds.
- Flag cam trialed by Fox Sports in Atlanta
You might have thought football had exhausted all the possible camera angles, but Fox Sports have recently begun to trial corner flag cameras at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to give a fresh perspective to their coverage of MLS and NFL games.
At Imagen we continue to be excited to see how sports organisations are able to better utilise and leverage valuable video content to grow their sport and build fan engagement and we'll be right there to help facilitate that. As a sports fan, the sheer pace with which sports are adapting and innovating proves that their has never been a better time to consume sports wherever you are in the world.