I was recently asked the question: “What do you think is going to be the next big technological trend in sport?” It’s one of those questions that I hate. The market goes where the big brands take it – but also where the public see the value. We can guess, but we cannot be sure. So, with the pointlessness of predictions in mind, I’m going to make one: Virtual Reality is going to be the big thing of 2015.
Sport Industry Group has unveiled the Official Shortlist for the BT Sport Industry Awards 2015, with the winners to be announced at the annual, star-studded ceremony in London on Thursday 30th April 2015.
Despite narrowly missing out on Super Bowl XLIX, Green Bay Packers are one of the clubs leading the way when it comes to digital fan engagement – and as the only fan-owned NFL franchise, they’re in the perfect position to own the space.
I got the chance to share a beer with Garrison Cummings, Digital Manager for the Green Bay Packers, and talk about the Packers approach to digital content, and how it compares with the likes of Premier League football clubs.
To help us celebrate 5 years… yes 5 years… to the day of Digital Sport (and its previous iteration, UK Sports Network) I’ve asked some of our original contributors back to give some of their thoughts on the changes they have seen in that time. First up is Mark Segal who had the ‘honour’ of being the site’s first ever author on 22nd January 2010!
Last year we covered the first Sport Social Media Index, compiled by the guys at Umpf in Leeds and ranked by a panel of four judges. The list covers 148 professional football, rugby and cricket teams in the UK and is the most comprehensive of its kind.
Recently I was invited to write an article on the Vodafone small business blog “Your Better Business”, which I was delighted to accept. The objective of the article was to give an overview of how the sports media industry has been transformed by changes in technology and what the future holds for the industry. Below is my summary and you can see the original here, love to hear if you agree…
Widely available internet access has enabled anyone’s voice to be heard, and on a scale never imaginable of before. I’ve been blogging on sport and the impact of digital media on it for the last five years and it’s only the ready availability of free websites like WordPress, cheap hosting and social media to promote articles and research new ones that has really made it possible.
The impact that technology has had on sport and how it is reported, whether it’s on certain niches such as digital and sport or more general discussions around teams and leagues around the world, has been huge. Previously you could say that sport needed the media, almost on an unconditional basis. But the boot is now firmly on the other foot so to speak.
Marc Cooper, until recently the Head of Audience and Content at The Football League, gave some insight into how the relationship between fans, the media and football teams has changed;
“Football clubs have always been able to give fans certain things that other media can’t, which is information and confirmation. Fans may have read about their team being linked with certain players, and they’ll look to their club website to confirm it. But fans want more than that. They want to be entertained too, and they want to know more about the players at their club. That’s another area that clubs can serve the fans well.”
It’s not only the major sports that have reaped the benefits of being in a more connected world. The so-‐called ‘lesser known sports’ can now act as their own media company, not having to rely on the scraps available within mainstream publications. This really is a game changer for them and will help raise awareness for their sport and get people interested in playing and/or watching it.
So where does that leave the journalist? The truth is that this has been the most radical shift in the media business in generations. And as with all periods of change there will be a time of adjustment as the old slowly learns how to work with and make use of the new.
The journalist is now the independent trusted resource, the one who has used his/her contacts and found out what is actually happening, not just the rumours (most of the time). They can spend time putting together great analysis and speak directly to the players involved. They are now the authentication, the experts we turn to when in doubt.
The relationship between fans and the media will continue to evolve as technology provides even greater access and insight. Fans will undoubtedly be the winners as the media they consume revolves more around when and where they want to do so.
Geo targeting of information is becoming more refined, helping to merge the online and offline worlds. We will see teams and leagues take back more control of their media, relying less on media rights as they produce their own income from subscriptions, sponsorship and advertising. Until those rights packages that are sold now become unsustainable, or Apple or Google bid for them, then this will take more time to see any radical shifts in live sports especially.
We are still in the early days of this explosion in media and technology, the tip of the iceberg in fact. But what it safe to say is that for media companies to stay relevant there needs to be a change in the mind sets of those involved. To become more fan-centric and deliver the types of content when they want it and how they want it.
The speed of change we are seeing now is frightening at times but this also means that new opportunities are opening up everyday. These gaps in the market are there to be seized upon by whoever is brave and forward thinking enough to spot them. There’s never been a more exciting time to be working in this industry than now!
We Play are a leading digital sports marketing agency. Specialising in strategy, fan insight, production and content distribution, we work with brands, sponsors, athletes and startups to help them build engaged, retained and loyal fan bases.
Guest Post: Tom Kelk is a tech/sport blogger and Senior Social Exec at communications agency, Pitch. You can find him on Twitter (@TomKelk), LinkedIn and his blog
TechCrunch reported last week that SnapChat have just agreed a deal with, Eric Toda, Nike’s Director of Digital, to come on board to help SnapChat develop further in sport.
Even the most casual of sports fan cannot fail to have noticed the increasing influence technology has on sport and for people at the sharp end of the industry, this influence is even more significant.
The coaches, referees, broadcasters and athletes who are immersed daily in sport, prosper hugely from technology’s offerings and so it’s only right that the people behind the innovations are justly recognized.
In a year that has seen a World Cup, an Olympics, a Commonwealth Games and a Ryder Cup as well as the launch of new initiatives such as Formula E, there have been some stand-out uses of technology. The introduction of goal line technology at the World Cup finals caused headlines before the tournament, whilst vanishing foam captured audiences’ attention during the contest.
Following recent articles, including by yours truly, about the Ryder Cup not allowed ticket holders to upload images or video to social media during the tournament, the Ryder Cup team have come out with an announcement to clear things up.
Social media interaction, photography and the sharing of content are all going to be encouraged at The 2014 Ryder Cup, according to the organisers. Though not everywhere on the course.
Ryder Cup Europe has moved to reassure spectators that they will be allowed to take photos and video on their mobile phones during the event, and will be encouraged to share their experiences on social networks.
A range of initiatives are already in place for visitors to engage with when they arrive at the event. This includes the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which will allow spectators to take part in fun activities around the course and share their experiences instantly on social media using a special wristband.
Ryder Cup Europe has also been working with the Scottish Government and mobile phone providers to provide ultrafast 4G wireless connections across the venue.
But organisers have rules in place for spectators on the course at Gleneagles in order to avoid disrupting players and the experience of other spectators. This is where it will still be hard for officials to police…
The use of cameras (and phones?) will be prohibited at each hole during play in order to avoid disrupting players and to enable a clear line of sight for all spectators, many of whom will be standing or sitting around the course rather than in a raised position in a grandstand.
Edward Kitson, Match Director of The 2014 Ryder Cup, said:
“We want people to share their stories online and feel part of The Ryder Cup. We have put in place a range of fantastic activities in the tented village and around the course that use technology to improve the visitor experience, and these are integrated with social networks. Selfies are positively encouraged and I expect to see plenty of them during the event.
“However, I’m sure everyone will understand that we have to draw a line in the interests of fair play and respect for the players and fellow spectators. Therefore no photography or video will be allowed during play at any hole. This is something we fully expect everyone to support given that The Ryder Cup is won and lost on very fine margins: we want to give the teams every chance of a level playing field and ensure everyone can see the action.”
Hopefully it will go smoothly but I imagine stopped people taking pictures of the final moments of the tournament will be exceptionally tough. It’s understandable that people trying to get a shot of their favourite player can be enormously off putting to said player, indeed there have been arguments between players and photographers/spectators about this for many years. It’s not just come about through the widespread use of social media.
Hopefully everything will go smoothly on the day, and fingers crossed for another victory for Europe!