Sports fans have seen their heroes making the most beautiful goals and breaking records on the screen for years. The love for the sport and associated content has not changed over the years.
On the other hand, the expectations of fans about how they are involved in the (live) sport and how they can express themselves are changing. New companies that activate content, have taken place on the stage and are growing much faster than the content creators such as traditional broadcasters.
This shows a clear shift in how fans can experience live sports on new platforms compared to how sports are currently being offered by traditional broadcasters.
How can broadcasters and leagues take advantage of this shift by using new technologies to offer fans more social interactions and direct influence in the game?
Below are a number of examples of current possibilities and our vision for the future regarding fan engagement during live sports. The starting point for this is to try to increase the interaction possibilities between fans and their involvement with the product.
Stimulate social interaction through overlays with fan engagement applications
An example of increasing the involvement and social interaction between fans can come from overlays. Companies that offer overlays for Twitch, for example, are numerous. This is because it improves the experience of the viewer. An overlay can be integrated with live images. Which applications could be bundled and what would this look like for sports broadcasters?
- See in real time how many points your fantasy players score
- Make live substitutions for your fantasy team
- Check how your friends are performing and what changes they are doing
Gameday, a startup from Y-combinator, focuses on the integration of fantasy sports in Facebook Messenger. This too has integration possibilities through a gaming overlay.
Quiz & Chat
Playing quizzes to engage audiences is not new. But playing a live quiz event against others and winning great prizes makes the HQ Trivia a big success in the US. Playing a live quiz where the questions come on your mobile and pop-ups on the screen or chatting with your friends can be very engaging and it has not been implemented during live sports broadcasts. Think about the possibilities the hugely popular HQ Trivia or Zender offer during a six-hour cycling stage in the Tour de France.
Choose which stats you want to see live on your screen during the match. Want to follow a specific player or see general stats? The time to market data can reduce drastically through new technologies and cameras that have been developed. An example of this is the cooperation between SAS and Sci-Sports in football.
By using these overlays there are also many other possibilities for gaining revenue, think of betting, sponsoring, etc … This is what Geoff Reiss, GM of Yahoo Sports explains in his podcast about how we consume sports in the future.
Give fans influence over the match before experiencing it
A good example of a success story where fans are directly involved in the product (competition) is formula E. Fans have a direct influence on the result by voting on which rider can use the so-called “fan boost”. A way to stay active both on social during non-racing days and to stay involved with the product. Striking is the growth of 13-17 years with the sport. Does this increasingly demanding group set the standard for what can be expected from broadcasters and leagues? This “new” way of engagement is in line with the new digital strategy of the FIA which already started its own OTT platform for Formula 1.
Give fans influence in the game, during the game
The final phase we will see in the “near” future is the phase where fans have a direct influence in the game, during the game. An example of what awaits us is the fan-controlled football league in the US. Here fans can determine their tactics from home, via mobile apps, which will be performed on the field by the players.
Crazy, yes crazy, of course, the American sport lends itself perfectly to this, but it shows once more how far we can go in our ability to involve fans in the product. It was of course no surprise when it became known that not a “traditional” broadcaster but Twitch had bought the rights for these games for the seasons 2019 and 2020.