This is a guest article by David Strachan, Digital Manager at GMR Marketing UK.
Looking at data from a consumer perspective, not just as a tech trend, is a new line of thought within digital sports marketing that’s becoming more and more prominent as it opens up a range of new digital media opportunities. ‘Datatainment’, a term coined by Richard Ayers (Digital ‘playmaker’ at Manchester City FC and the BFI), has already been seen in some recent pieces of work, most notably Heineken’s “Star Player” app which turns the data into a live game that fans can play and interact with during live broadcasts.
There has always been huge appetite from sports fans to get information that can’t be gained from simply watching the live action. We’ve all found ourselves (well I have), listening to Gary Neville on Sky Sports playing around with his touch screen, making arrows and moving circles about, providing us the insight that as mere spectators we don’t really see. Just as interesting is Hawkeye, providing an insight into game and player analysis within tennis and cricket (with more to follow) that we’ve never been able to see before.
Watch any American sports on TV and you’ll notice how they integrate live stats into their broadcasts. Max Gadney recently wrote a piece looking at how US sports have been pioneers of delivering stats to fans through live broadcasts, arguing that perhaps the nature of American sports (NFL, MLB) lend themselves better to delivering quantifiable stats. It certainly does seem a lot easier to analyse an NFL game with set plays and a grid like pitch, compared to football (soccer), which is a much freer and open game (ref: http://www.domusweb.it/en/design/in-screen-sports-graphics/).
All this is certainly information sports fans love to consume, but the change we are seeing now is the concept of Datatainment, the evolution of data from intelligence, to information, to entertainment. As Jonas Olofsson says “I believe Datatainment is emerging as a new digital product category and great business opportunity for media companies. We just need to get over the idea that data is merely a tech trend”.
I was introduced to a new start-up at the Sports Tech Meetup the other week that I found particularly interesting. http://www.squawka.com/ combines live data from Opta and social media, allowing fans to interact with others and post out interesting stats on the live game as soon as they come in. Just another example of how fans engage now with live sports data.
With ever enhancing work going into the monitoring of pro athletes and emerging technologies to track and analyse game play (Hawkeye, GPS tracking), we’re consuming sport in a whole new way. With multiple devices (tablets, smartphones, connected TV’s) on which we now consume data and engage with sport and entertainment, and a small matter of social media to connect people and amplify a message, the possibilities are endless.
How we deliver this concept of Datatainment to engage sports fans is the challenge, but one that offers great rewards for fans, rights holders and sponsors.