As technology advances and the media world proliferates through countless new platforms, video services and devices, watching sports has become an entirely new concept over the last few years.
To explore and better understand this new reality, sports marketing firm Fenway Sports Management gathered sports and tech industry leaders for a conversation on the ways in which digital innovation is redefining the sports experience at its "Changing the Game" summit.
Here are seven important trends for sports marketers to look out for:
1. Brands must develop robust second screen social media strategies to engage fans during game broadcasts.
Social media is a proven driver for television broadcasts, which continue to be major revenue drivers for teams, networks and advertising brands. According to Nielsen, each time a Facebook post about an NFL game broadcast is shared during the 15 minutes prior to kickoff, 1,000 additional viewers tune in for the first minute of play.
2. Video will rule the content universe in the near future.
Video and photos provide opportunity for brands to deliver entertaining, exclusive content and drive greater fan engagement. One hundred million hours of video are viewed per day on Facebook, and videos average 62% more engagement than photos.
3. The long-heralded era of wearable technology has arrived.
Consumers of performance wear will increasingly demand both style and advanced functionality, driving sports and fitness clothing, footwear and equipment manufacturers and technology providers to partner to incorporate smart technologies into athletic products.
4. Advanced video technology will transform the way sports are governed and experienced.
Real-time athlete data and enhanced replay technology will provide a bevy of new information for leagues, teams, broadcasters and fans.
5. Virtual reality is the future and the future is now.
VR will revolutionize player training and fan engagement. VR's ability to capture the first-person point of view has valuable applications that traditional video lacks: Athletes get valuable repetitions from a first-person perspective in an immersive, 360-degree environment; fans get authentic experiences that immerse them in the major-league action.
6. Competitive e-gaming will grow.
E-gaming will continue to mature as a sport, and its potential for reaching the coveted millennial demographic will be of tremendous value to brands. In 2016, the global market for e-sports will generate an estimated turnover of 493 million dollars, according to Newzoo.
7. Cutting out the media middleman.
Athletes will continue to eschew traditional media and deliver their message directly to fans through new media platforms that specialize in offering athlete-point-of-view content such as The Players’ Tribune, which was unveiled by New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter in October 2014. Kobe Bryant announced his retirement exclusively on the Tribune, nearly crashing the site. LeBron James and his business partner Maverick Carter created Uninterrupted, a site that provides athletes with a direct channel to communicate unfiltered information and commentary to fans. Uninterrupted also plans to create original content such as miniseries and documentaries.