Why will technology help the sporting industry and you will have to get used to the fact that people and businesses will always be outside the stadiums? This is the big question in sprot for 2021 and it is certainly a valid one too. The world has changed. More than six months ago, in many different parts of the globe, the progress of a virus that has us all on alert has been analyzed every day. COVID 19 has already spread to more than 100 countries and brings with it, in addition to an attack on the body, doubts, questions, changes in habits and behavior of people both individually and collectively. Sport has also fallen prey to the devastating effects, although not as much as the industries such as travel and hospitality. We were used to seeing any sport discipline and perhaps for a while we cannot see it with the same framework anymore – no more going to soccer matches with the kids. No more spectating the swimming and gymnastic shows. No more Sunday afternoons playing golf. Those who practice it in a professional or amateur way, will not be able to develop the activity in the same way in the near future either. All areas have come to an unusual halt. Some records may have been broken and some are to be made, you can read more about that at www.premierleagueheroes.com.
But, the truth is that the pandemic also leaves certainties. More than 75% of the world’s population liked sports before the globalization of the virus, the same percentage we will have when this process has been overcome. The behavior of the athletes must be different from what they had been having, both in their training moments and in their transfers. It will not be the norm anymore to go see a sport with an audience as we were used to doing in the past. And this last point will surely be the one that goes least unnoticed for all of us. So what will change? Technology is certainly going to intervene as it already has.
Technology leading the wa
Technology will continue to help us stay connected to the sport we love. This will accompany us and allow us to enjoy it in different ways. In this time when there was no space to enjoy entertainment outside the home, the consumption of content by different technological platforms increased. According to the latest survey of the Global Web Index, the use of content through streaming, online TV or video games was what grew the most in those under 37 years of age, reaching peaks of almost 50% more than what they used before confinement. In Europe, the use of social networks increased by 55%. The number of ESports tournaments increased significantly, while live sports fell. This increase in tournaments and public following them, will allow to increase the commercial income of the properties that originally generated these activities (Federations, Leagues, clubs, etc).
Technology already allows us to see what happens in a stadium, at the same time, anywhere in the world. Transmission through conventional systems such as TV or new platforms (streaming, OTT – Content through the internet) can transport us to every corner of the planet. While all the soccer leagues in the world struggle to have many fans in their stands, the business on game day is much smaller with respect to the sale of audiovisual rights or sponsors.
Perhaps where we can find the most contribution in technology is in the distribution of content and the income that this brings to the leagues and clubs. Attendance at stadiums in the majority of Europe and in America is much below 30 thousand spectators per game. However, now there is an opportunity to watch games that you may not have had a chance to before, and some of the soccer leagues may be shown in more than 170 countries. In recent years, the growth of OTTs has made it possible to reach any phone, tablet or computer in the world directly, managing to multiply audiences and revenues. The clubs, leagues or athletes that take advantage of it are global and not local. However a lot of the revenue made is going to good causes. During the COVID-19 crisis, sport has donated millions to good causes to help people get back on their feet.
Is it just soccer?
No! The NBA just signed an agreement with Microsoft a few days ago to use artificial intelligence to improve the fan experience and content broadcasts. 99% of his fans in the world never attended a live game. It has been working with its own OTT for some time now and offers its global followers different content and images to view from phones and tablets. Formula 1 last season reached 1.9 billion people who paid to see its races, of which about 4 million fans attended its grand prix. Their OTT can be viewed from any platform in almost 80 countries, while their races are run in 21 of them. Basketball is huge and all sporting platforms have taken a hit but all of them are improving once again due to the technological advances that are allowing fans to still get some kind of sporting experience.
COVID 19 will pass. When the conditions are in place to enjoy sport again, each country will have the green light to go ahead once again. Technological tools will continue to allow us to enjoy it. With or without an audience, professional sport has long ceased to be an activity that is enjoyed only in a stadium. The business is not supported by the sale of its tickets, although in many places it is still an important part of the income. The setting will not be the same, but there will be more people and businesses outside the stadiums than inside them. Technology will continue to accompany the growth of the activity and bring new fans from different parts of the globe, whether they are in quarantine or not.