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Technology Unlocks the Potential for Growth in the Sports Industry

By: Natalie Downey

Technology has continued to transform businesses across all industries, elevating and customizing the customer experience. This is especially true within the sports industry, where we have been seeing changes in the way that professional games are recorded, interacted with, and watched.

In 2015, MLB implemented a tool called Statcast, a combination of two tracking systems that are installed in each ballpark to record data that is usually hard to quantify: pitch velocity, spin rate, etc. These statistics make it easier to compare players and improve the analysis of individual positions. It can also help those who struggle to understand how baseball works or what certain stats mean.

The MLB is not the only league that has experienced changes due to technology. Increases in technology have radically altered both the consumer experience and the inner workings of organizations. The NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA have all experienced significant declines in attendance over the last seven years.

Statistics also show that while in-person numbers have been dropping, the number of fans who are using streaming platforms has increased. In 2017, the number of fans who streamed NFL games increased by 25%. Though going to an NFL game in person is a very engaging experience, streaming services offer a level of personalization that sitting in the stands doesn’t provide.

71 percent of consumers are more interested in ads that are specific to their interests. Fans interact more with ads that are targeted towards them. Statistics show that targeted advertisements are twice as effective as non-targeted ads, and 60 percent of millennials are willing to share their data for deals or promotions. Fans crave an inclusive and shareable experience.

Teams and leagues are using this information to their advantage and are dedicating more time and resources towards cultivating strong relationships with their fans. Understanding and utilizing digital technologies has proven very important for improving fan engagement.

The September 1, 2018, NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Giants was the first-ever NFL game where fans could place bets online through a mobile betting app. This was just the start of the quickly growing popularity of sports gambling.

Sports betting does not only affect fans but requires a large number of decision-making efforts from the owners and presidents of sports teams or venues. Kim Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Bills, explained how the legalization of sports betting has changed how the team plans for future facilities. They now have to think about how the in-venue experiences have changed and not only how to build it but also how fans will use it. In-venue sports betting has been described as a fun way for fans to engage with the game.

With Covid now being a factor, technology, in general, has become more necessary than ever. With fans unable to attend games in person, they need new and innovative ways to engage. Applications like Bleacher Report and The Score can help fans actively follow multiple teams and keep track of scores without actually attending in person.

Technology is ever-changing, and it will continue to remain a big part of the sports industry and our lives as a whole. Keep an eye out for any new innovations related to technology and how they may possibly influence you or the industry you work in.

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