As our team and our products continue to evolve, we invest in educating ourselves on the current issues that live at the intersection of sports, entertainment and technology innovation. Our series Industry Insights showcases our learnings from conferences, tradeshows and other key sources as they relate to these constantly changing topics.

At CES this year, it’s no surprise that AI and VR were hot topics. These trending technologies were being talked about in the sessions, at the booths and at the networking events. But the theme we saw over and over again was the challenge that teams, leagues, venues and performers are constantly faced with — leveraging technology to build a state of the art fan experience. Here is what the leaders in sports and entertainment were discussing.

Delivering a VIP fan experience from “curb to curb to curb”

One of the most prevalent conversations happening at CES was around investing in technology that improves fan engagement at live and broadcast events. From the moment a fan steps out of their house and gets into their car — or their Uber — to go to the game or the concert, there is an opportunity to engage with them. Likewise, from the moment a fan tunes into the game broadcast or the live stream of the show, there are engagement touch points that are being left on the table.

With all of the tech that is out there today, it’s clear that the teams want to do more than just engage them with one-off experiences. Organizations want to raise the bar and wow fans with a seamless, cutting edge adventure. Simply getting fans to attend games isn’t enough anymore – they want to effectively navigate them to, through and from the game while maximizing their experience. And they view technology as the vehicle to do so.

Using content and technology to unlock new behaviors

As sports teams invest in smart venue tech, they are constantly thinking about how to leverage that technology to drive engagement and social strategy. They are solving for this by creating content that unlocks those desired behaviors. They want to use one fan to engage other fans, inside and outside the venue, and to do that they need to have content that grabs attention and has social hooks.

Sports properties are looking for technology that can make sharing a piece of content from the live event completely turnkey. Text-to-win programs that generate immediate shares on social platforms, Instagram photo booths. These are two examples of opportunities that can create a longer trail of engagement opportunities for teams.

Bringing biometrics and sports science into the equation

Both at the live event and during the broadcasts, investments are being made that provide fans with a deeper understanding of the player’s condition and probabilities for success — aka biometrics. It’s clear how this lends itself to fantasy sports and game outcome predictions, but there’s more.

Now biometrics technologies are being used to improve the fan experience. Think product demos on the concourse at live events. Fans can test their resting heart rates or understand how their own biometrics impact their performance in a quick shot competition, or compare their heart rate and adrenaline levels to those of seasoned pros, like Tiger Woods before a winning putt at a tournament.  The ability to track a player in that environment to predict outcomes and generate performance analysis push the limits of modern fan experiences. To that end, the sky is really the limit for how immersive these experiences will become.

Driving higher levels of engagement through technology

Based on CES, it’s clear that leveraging new technologies to improve fan experience at the live event is the main area of focus with the sports industry right now. By investing in the right products, sports properties hope to drive higher numbers in live event attendance, more engagements on social and more broadcast tune ins. They want to enable fans to share information about their experience with ease, across platforms, so that a court-side experience is presented to others as a way to encourage future attendance.

They want to create a seamless, memorable experience that begins way before the first play of the game — and continues way after the game ends. The end goal is to create an experience that keeps fans coming back for more, and sports organizations and professional leagues are prepared to invest into new technologies that maximize fan immersion.  And it sounds like they’ll continue to invest and test new technologies until they can achieve this.

Jeff Klagholz is an Associate Director of ISM Connect’s Smart Cities initiatives.  

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