Digital technologies are one of the most important growth areas for sports stadium and arena construction and operation, with innovative products and services redefining the ways the event is enjoyed.
A recent report by technology consultants Capgemini has revealed that emerging technologies such as VR and AI are key to enhancing the fan experience and are influential in attracting fans to live sporting events.
The study produced by the Capgemini Research Institute is called Emerging technologies in sports: reimagining the fan experience, and uses responses from over 10,000 fans around the globe who regularly watch and follow top sports.
The study shows that for 69% of fans, the use of emerging technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR), has enhanced their overall viewing experience both inside and outside the stadium; a positive experience with technologies also enhances overall fan engagement.
Of respondents who liked their technology experiences, 56% said they would actually go to more physical matches at their team’s stadium as a result, and 60% said they would stream more matches online. Nearly half of fans (49%) have often increased their spending on team merchandise following a good experience and 42% have increased this spend a few times, while 92% said they increased their spend on online subscriptions for watching matches (either often or a few times).
The report also shows that fans who have experienced emerging technologies during a recent visit to a stadium are more satisfied with their experience overall.
Fans from Asian countries – including India, Hong Kong, and Singapore – lead in the adoption and acceptance of emerging technologies in sports. Close to three-quarters of Asian fans (74%) have experienced the use of emerging technology in the stadium, with India leading at 88%. However, this drops to 56% for the United States, 50% for Germany, and below 50% each for Canada, France, United Kingdom and Australia. Furthermore, 71% of Asian fans said they would be willing to pay more if new technologies enhanced their stadium experience, compared to 40% of North American fans, 34% of European fans, and 33% of Australian fans.
Emerging technologies can also convert and upgrade more fans to become avid fans who generate more business and positive word-of-mouth on having a good tech-enabled sports experience. For example, 73% of avid fans attend more matches following a good tech-enabled experience, compared to 50% of the rest, and nearly three-quarters of avid fans watch a match in the stadium when their favorite team is playing. Athletes are increasingly using a variety of emerging technologies for activities, including training, injury prevention and tracking performance. For example, Zone7, a company using data and analytics for identifying and avoiding potential career-threatening injuries to athletes, has achieved 95% accuracy in predicting injuries and has been able to reduce potential injuries by 75%.
Tom Mitchell, captain of England’s Rugby sevens team said: “The use of virtual reality in reviewing training sessions and matches can have a big impact on sports. If you can put yourself in a given situation instead of just reviewing a match by watching a video, then the learning and reviewing experience becomes much more real. If you are able to be in that situation again, either through VR or another technology, it would be a massive step up in terms of the reviewing and learning experience.”
Sports organizations across the world are now presented with a huge opportunity to tap into evolving consumer expectations and make far more customized and personalized fan engagement. According to the new report, organizations can focus on the following areas to adopt and optimize emerging technologies in sports:
- Reassure fans on usage of personal data by seeking consent where possible on use of data, being transparent about the use and protection of consumer data, and demonstrating the value that consumers stand to gain with this data exchange
- Identify user needs before investing in and deploying emerging technologies
- Convert more fans to ‘avid fans’ by defining a digital fan experience and offering ‘hyper-personalized’ experiences
- Build digital practices, capabilities, and transform organizational culture by investing in a digital culture, skills, and cross-sharing of information across sports organizations to drive greater innovation
Darshan Shankavaram, global digital customer experience practice leader at Capgemini, said: “The use of emerging technologies in the fan experience is an exciting and rapidly growing area. Sports organizations across the world have a huge opportunity to tap into evolving expectations of fans and athletes to build a more joined up, customized and personalized engagement experience. Additionally, organizations can benefit by using technology to improve players’ performance or prevent injuries, or for coaches to strategize the play through simulations.”