How Tech Is Redefining the Sports Fan Experience

Overview Sports organizations are refocusing on their fans, exploring what fans value and how sports companies can use technology to improve fan engagement.

The way fans — be they professional athletes, and casual weekend sports or Esports players, or viewers and supporters of games — experience and engage with sports continues to evolve with the growth of technology. It’s easier than ever for millions of people across the globe to tune in to games and interact with players.

Sports organizations are dedicated to building and maintaining a connection with fanbases to match these changes, uncovering how tech provides unique opportunities for them to improve the fan experience. 


Getting to Know the Fans

With the abundance of data now, sports leaders have an unprecedented array of information with which they can curate personalized and segmented experiences.

 “I think in sports business, win the crowd and you’re going to be successful,” said Zack Sugarman, SVP of Properties, Wasserman, on the CES 2019 stage. “All these different audiences have different affinities, different motivations, different likes, and they want to be communicated to in a different way.”

Even with the amount of tech and data at our fingertips, the key to building fan relationships is to use it authentically, Sugarman said. He emphasized how even with these new tools, businesses should be authentic to their properties and their brand. 

I think in sports business, win the crowd and you’re going to be successful.

Zack Sugarman
SVP of Properties, Wasserman

The Fan Experience

For fans, “it’s not just a sporting event,” said Skarpi Hedisson, CTO of the LA Rams. “It’s everything that encapsulates that. It’s the shared community, the shared experience.”

Sports leaders are now thinking holistically about a fan’s journey with a sport beyond simply sitting in a seat and watching a game. From looking at the application of tech at touchpoints like gate ticketing to making parking at sports arenas more efficient, sports organizations aim to improve each interaction with the consumers.

Through these opportunities, sports companies are making sure games are accessible to everyone.

Companies are offering ways for supporters to interact with the sport even when there isn’t an ongoing game, keeping the excitement alive. Kerry Bublox, president and chief operation officer of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, highlighted how his team created an image-based book with QR codes that allows fans to relive game highlights. Readers can scan the QR code on the images and, through an app, watch key moments of the game they love.

Off the US Open courts, tennis lovers are able to use VR to get the feel of being on a professional tennis court. Younger players, the next generation of tennis lovers, are being coin-tossers for professional matches, learning firsthand the excitement of the game.

“It’s a much more attainable sport now [for youth],” said Amy Choyne, CMO of USTA. “Smaller racket sizes, progression of balls with different compressions, smaller court sizes.”

Beyond the Sport

Social media has brought fan-to-athlete engagement beyond the game. Athletes, not just teams, have built platforms for themselves through social media, engaging with loyal fanbases that are motivated by their favorite players to care about the sport but also about other important social causes.

“We partner with [the players] to curate their social channels,” said Choyne of USTA’s efforts. “Our approach with players is that they’re also looking for original content to grow their audiences, so we have a shared goal.”

The increased emphasis on engaging with fans both at a sports event and beyond will help sports organizations satisfy the next generation of sports lovers.

“At the end of the day, I am a fan,” said Bublox.


Watch the full session Engagement DNA: What Do Fans Really Value?
 

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