Sports worldwide is a $600 billion industry. Football and Basketball are the top two sports entertainment vehicles in the United States. The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl in February and the Toronto Raptors just claimed the latest NBA title. All you have to do is tune into those media outlets to get the vibe that sports fans are an intense and excited lot, to say the least.
No matter your favorite sport, each year the sports cycle continues to be the main source of entertainment for hundreds of millions of people around the world. All ready to shell out those $600 billion.
Given these levels of popularity, it comes as no surprise that the sporting industry continues to generate seemingly limitless amounts of capital. Where do all of these investments go? A portion goes towards paying the athletes who actually compete. Also, a large chunk of the money goes towards viewership rights and other marketing ventures. What must be mentioned, however, is the fact that a rather large part of the owners and their respective cities invested capital is spent on innovation and new technology that helps sports evolve and thrive—in these 6 distinct ways:
This is the most obvious one. Nowadays, every single mainstream sport has clear ties to technology around broadcasting specific events worldwide. For example, if 100,000-seat stadiums could only sell tickets in person, outside of those people present at the event others would find it impossible to watch. Thankfully, technology allows sporting events to be broadcast on television and streamed online through various distribution platforms, allowing those without tickets to still participate as rabid consumers.
It’s a major marketing tool as well as a major revenue producer as media outlets pay billions of dollars to handle the distribution of the events. So, what are some other ways in which technology affects sports that may not be as obvious? One of them is…
Lower Margin of Umpire/Referee Error
When the Patriots won this year’s Super Bowl a lot of fans forgot about the fact that there were other vastly important teams involved in the mix—a contingent of professionals working towards ensuring that it was a clean game. To this end there were multiple reviews where advanced resources were used to slow down the footage and deploy multiple angles and close-ups to see if there were missed penalties. On the screen at home, most fans only got to see the initial calls and instant replays. The referees, on the other hand, had access to expensive technology that let them slow down every visual and take a look at it frame-by-frame in order to give their calls a much higher percentage of precision. This led to many more correct calls and thus minimized the overall margin of error. The same applies to many other sports where high-resolution, high-frames-per-second cameras are used to capture every single moment for the benefit of the integrity of the game.
It’s also a win/win when it comes to the athletes as well as the overseers. The players know their athleticism isn’t for naught. Their skills are being utilized to the fullest overseen by the best technology available, which greatly diminishes human error. And it gives the umpires and referees checking the game a fall back option during bang-bang plays to get the calls exactly right. Behind it all?
Technology. And when it comes to the athlete and the enforcer of the rules, technology makes it a huge win for all involved. 3rd…
Viewership Rates Are Skyrocketing
According to former basketball and tennis player and an accomplished organizational leader Gil Jones, technology is one of the main reasons why viewership rates have been steadily increasing for the past few decades. For instance, according to Statista, viewership for the NBA Finals over the past decade has reached the 16-20 million mark. One of the reasons is because streaming services like Hulu, YouTube, Apple, and Sling TV are booming.
Not in the too distant past these same Finals had multiple instances where there were less than 10 million total spectators. This clear growth has a lot to do with the rapid development of new ways in which people can watch the games. For instance, you control the device you want to watch your game on—everything from Smart TVs to iPads to Smartphones. On top of that you have the ability to purchase your preferred distribution service(s) that let you watch whatever event you want on a platform that allows you to view it whenever you want. So being near or far, all you need is a device and streaming services and like magic you have the best seat in the house to watch your favorite team.
Just be careful not to fan-scream if you’re watching on your phone in a business meeting and your boss is present.
Secondary Markets Like Gaming
Besides affecting the actual sporting industry, technology has made it possible for many secondary markets to evolve or develop. A great example would be the countless video games that are put out every year for each sport. Although they have existed for years, the graphics and life-like representation of the athletes has reached a level that nobody saw coming. When EA Sports used to have the commercial line “If it’s in the game it’s in the game” they never in their wildest dreams saw this level of involvement.
Even the players themselves are in front of screens, right now, playing themselves.
Additionally, recent years saw the unprecedented growth of the derivative Fantasy League Games in almost every sport. Which means that before the professional league even begins the fan is the GM of their own created teams. Fans at this point are more involved than ever during the season as they draft players for their league competitions.
Technological analytics like accurate data charts and multi-layer algorithms gives the sports fan abilities to connect with their teams and players like never before. They become the actual creators of their respective franchises. They may call it a fantasy league but it feels as real to the fan as it comes. If it’s in the game YOU’RE IN THE GAME. And that’s a major Wow Factor. Then there’s…
Safe & Efficient Sales
The sports revenue needle spikes super high because of technology. A lot of transactions that take place in the sporting industry would be impossible without it.
Just consider the process surrounding online ticket sales where people buy individual game or season passes. Doing so takes no more than a few minutes and it’s hard to say that any other alternative would be safer. This is because the actual tickets get delivered to people’s e-mail accounts and they can then access them through custom apps.
So, the odds of losing them to malicious hackers or real life thieves? It’s nearly non-existent. And how awesome is that?
Modernized Stadiums & Arenas
Finally, Gil Jones stresses the importance of technology when it comes to construction projects related to sports. These include stadium development projects that are now reaching into the billions of dollars and require architectural, design, and manufacturing tools that didn’t even exist a couple decades ago.
Just 10 years ago AT&T Stadium, which hosts the Dallas Cowboys, mandated $1.2 billion to construct. At that time, it possessed some of the most modern and advanced arena mechanisms that were ever created. As time went on the stakes got even higher…
Los Angeles stepped up in 2017. With a $5 billion privately funded stadium, park, casino, residential, & office property sitting on 60 acres showcasing the NFL’s Rams and Chargers getting ready to open in 2020, it’s game on in Southern California!
On a smaller scale (cough!) the Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas in 2020. The relocation fee alone for owner Mark Davis was $378 million. He didn’t blink. With a cost of over $2 billion for the 65,000-seat stadium he knows that with the technological foundation for such a site in the long run his pockets will overflow with money far exceeding the cost.
Massive investments in real estate mean even bigger revenues. Much of it with technology taking a bow.
So, there you have it. 6 ways technology is crushing it when it comes to the sports industry. It’s obvious that technology is woven into the very fabric of where, when, and how sports are delivered to the consumer. And with the two being hand in glove, as we gaze into the future the sky is truly the limit.