T10 – Sports Tech Trends

Sport for Business T10 is a new weekly feature where we will look at Ten Key things you will benefit from knowing in an area of the business of sport either here at home or on a global basis.

Today we kick off with looking at Top trends that are unfolding across the world of sports technology in 2018.

Smartphone Ticketing

In the US this weekend a number of games in College Football will move away from the concept of a paper ticket and rely entirely on having the eticket downloaded onto your smartphone.

There is talk of enhanced security and a move against both counterfeiting and ticket touting. All three subjects are difficult to argue against and if you think it could never happen here…

Communication with Fans

The world of GDPR or General Data Protection Regulations will be upon us before the start of the All Ireland Championships. It will change the way that brands and teams will be able to communicate with us.

‘Spam’ will theoretically become a thing of the past and the information we choose to receive will need to be of real interest and intelligently packaged.

eSports – Get in the Game

The truth is, it is not sport as we know it, and you will hear that endlessly from people as the surge of eSports continues. League of Legends and other Massive Multi Player Games are the bedrock of eSports but sporting clubs and communities are being used as a neat ‘tribal’ way to grow reach.

Three are major sponsors of Ireland’s first live tournament in 2018. Based on SSE Airtricity Clubs and regional events and culminating in a major finals event in the 3 Arena in the Spring.

Facebook Broadcasting

Watch out for rights holders getting more adventurous with programming that delivers straight to their audience.

The GAA ran two live Facebook broadcasts last year ahead of each of the All Ireland Finals in Hurling and Football. Basketball Ireland has a weekly programme as well.

AIB as sponsors and TG4 as broadcasters also produced live exclusive content delivered free through ‘non-traditional’ media. How we watch in 2018 will be a fascinating path to follow.

Stadium Connectivity

We live on our phones, we will pay through our phones, we will feel ‘out of the loop if our phones can’t connect us.

The major stadia know this and whether the first steps are to maintain stronger closed loops to allow card and contactless payments for drinks and other services all the way through to watching live action from different cameras in a highly personal experience, It’s coming because it has to.

5G

It will drive people mad who are looking to the advent of rural broadband but by the time that happens things will have moved on apace.

It seems strange to think that only 70km from the border with North Korea next month we will see the first full-scale deployment of 5G, delivered by Intel as part of the Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang.

Major games lead to major advances.  Contactless payments were still a novelty at the London 2012 Games.

Virtual Reality Contact

There will still be a major concern over the impact of concussive contact and a number of teams in the NFL have already moved towards less full contact in training.

By cutting out impact in the bulk of sessions there is a dramatic fall in the number of potential clashes that could cause concussion.  Whether that lessens the skill of avoiding more damage in a game environment will be raised but ultimately if there is a safety benefit and a welfare benefit then the virtual tackle will become more prevalent.

Personalised Gear

The technology is already there to create a shirt for Sean O’Brien that is specifically contoured to the shape of Sean O’Brien.  For most of us though we have always had to make do with the choice of S, M, L or into the realms of XL.

Of course, it’s more expensive to produce a made to order kit but the advances in 3D printing mean it is already happening in shoes and it will not be long before a premium product arrives in clothing as well.

Big Screen Small Screen

New Giant screens in Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium are already showing us the way in terms of fanb walls and user generated content.  In the US this is being driven to another level by having a near live upload of content from fans with camera phones around the ground.

Imagine the concept of 82,300 camera positions at an All Ireland Final.  Then it’s just a case of sorting through to capture the best.  If there is one thing technology has always been good at it is in sorting at a speed beyond human comprehension.

Social Media Regulation

Broadcasting is among the most highly regulated industry sectors and social media among the least.  As the latter strays into the formers territory there may be a push to create far greater control of social media channels.

Every time a ‘hate storm’ arises in social there are calls for calm and calls for censure.  With transparency and good behaviour in business and politics high on the wider agenda, it wil not be long before the right to free speech and the right to control that come into conflict.

With sport a central part of social media plans for growth, it is also likely to be one of the first battlegrounds.

And the one that got away…

It is only two months since Ireland missed out on the bid to host the Rugby World Cup.  That loss can be expressed in many different forms but there is no dount that the lost opportunity to be at the forefront of developing sports technology advances is one that will only be fully appreciated when we see what happens in France over the next five years.

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