MAD Perspectives Blog

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 Sports Leading Innovation

Peggy Dau - Monday, October 13, 2014

it's no surprise that sporting events drive technology innovation - or is it? If you were to ask a friend about the technology of sports, they might shrug or look at you with a quizzical expression. However, given a few more minutes to think about it, they might actually come forth with a few ideas. In fact, sports has driven development and mainstreaming of a lot of broadcast technology that we now take for granted. As an example, look at how the way watch and enjoy sports has benefited from the innovations noted in this 2011 article from Business Insider.

The sports industry is all about creating a compelling fan experience. Sure, teams seek out amazing talent, build attractive stadiums and play to win. But it is the fans that pay to attend games, that pay to watch events on TV, that buy merchandise, that share their passion on social networks, that buy the devices that enable them to access information about their team - anytime, anywhere. As FIFA prepared for this year's world cup they understood that global football fans would be accessing match statistics and video from a myriad of devices. As a result, they invested in delivering multimedia services to their licensed broadcasters serving local fans.

These services focused on enabling online and second screen experiences. FIFA partners with Netco do develop an app that could be white-labeled by broadcasters. The app, used by 40 broadcasters, resulted in 28 million downloads. One billion users visited FIFA's Global Stadium - the social online media hub. It was only on digital platforms that fans could view matches from EVERY angle. On the social network front, the World Coup attracted 451M Facebook users and 16M Twitter followers.

The technology demands of the first global sporting event capturing and producing content in 4K required a host of broadcast technology from vendors including Sony, EVS, Deltatre, Netco, Elemental, Eutelsat, Globosat, Aspera, Akamai and Microsoft Azure. The mix of traditional broadcast vendors and vendors enabling online streaming and second screen experiences is a sign of the future. EVS, long known for its sports broadcasting technology, has proven its ability foresee audience demand through development of C-Cast to enable second screen publishing (used at the World Cup 2014) and its recently released FanCast, designed to enhance the in-stadium experience (and sure to be used at the next Olympics).

The IBC2014 Judges Award for broadcast innovation was awarded to the FIFA World Cup 2014 - a confirmation of sporting events driving the future of broadcast technology and ultimately, the fan experience. Sports fans are passionate. Sports fans will invest in the tools to feed their passion. Teams, leagues and non-sports oriented event organizers (e.g., entertainment, political) must take note and adopt the tools that makes sense for their budgets to optimize broadcast and second screen experiences. 

What's your perspective?