Imagine this. A huge screen, thousands of fans, a hotly contested game, and suddenly you realize that the loud cheer that just went through this parking lot was telecast directly at the stadium. Sounds fun, right? With the sports industry taking giant strides in the realm of fan engagement, this, and many more such innovations are just around the corner.
The sports industry in India is booming, with as many as 8 major sporting tournaments being organized over the past 4 years. Although the sports industry employs only .05 per cent of the total workforce of India, this sector is estimated to report one of the highest percentages of growth by 2020. One of the significant reasons is the huge amount of constant fan engagement that various sports platforms have managed to create over the last 5 years.
From stepping out of your home to keeping you updated as you work, helping you stay hooked on to estimates and analysis till the time you head back and sit down to enjoy the game, sporting platforms enhance and complete your sporting experience in a 360-degree way. In a world that is fast getting proliferated with high-definition televisions, it is through implementing the following technologies that sports platforms have built their colossal fan engagement strategies:
Complete analysis of the game
As you stand in an overcrowded metro while the big match is about to begin, cursing your luck, or your boss (obviously mentally!) is an obvious choice. Or, you can squeeze in your hand, take out your mobile phone and start watching the game, with all the relevant information and insights, down to the very last detail. From ball-to-ball commentary, statistics to match prediction contests, sports platforms provide a wholesome experience to fans, much like watching the match at home with friends. By providing a variety of media to maintain the interest of the viewer, such as score estimate contests, sports betting, be-a-manager simulated scenarios etc. they even encourage casual viewers to log in regularly and convert into loyal fans, thereby enhancing the fan base for the specific team and the sport as a whole.
Big Data and predictive analytics
By recording every like, comment, post or subscription and merchandise purchases, sports platforms analyze customer data-including both structured and unstructured data such as social media activity-and offer sports marketers’ better insights to fan preferences and behaviours. This in turn helps to formulate innovative and impactful fan engagement strategies. Furthermore, various wearable technology devices allow sports fanatics to ‘compete virtually’ against their favourite athletes, such as trying to surpass the speed of their favourite footballer or doing more push-ups than their favourite athlete.
Massive advertising possibilities
A finite area such as a stadium can only provide limited amount of advertising possibilities. Even when it does, it ends up being a very ‘conventional’ method of campaigning, with a logo-printed balloon here or face-paint selfies there. This does not bode well with either the sponsors who want to grab more eyeballs for their moolah, or the viewers, who want a more intense experience. In such a scenario, tech-enabled platforms come to the rescue due to their massive scope, as well as diverse opportunities they offer for fan engagement. From playing with your favourite player virtually to receiving personalized messages, the advertising and fan engagement possibilities are limitless on tech-based sports platforms.
A beyond-the-game experience
While anticipating a big match day, you are not looking forward to that same old routine of sitting alone on the couch, with a bag of chips. Fret not. Social gaming platforms, networks and apps enable you to avoid the boredom by connecting you with like-minded sports fans across the globe. A recent survey stated that 83% of sports fans stated that they regularly check social networking sites while watching games. So much so, that Bob Morgan, the CEO and Founder of Sportstream.com called the year 2013 as ‘the year of social sports.’ Presenting the game in a right way and allowing the audience to engage in real time heightens their game viewing experience. These platforms have essentially made it easier for fans to both enjoy the game and the conversations around them, resulting in an ultimate cohesive experience. This kind of a sports induced addition to the social sphere of an audience leads to the development of a long-term relationship and makes every individual a part as well as the target of marketing efforts. Furthermore, it also helps to segregate and create groups of consumers with similar tastes and preferences, facilitating implementation of specifically directed marketing strategies.
New sports leagues, international players and a lot of commercial buzz have made India the next big ‘sportainment’ destination of the world. With the combined effect of the aforementioned technologies and the passionate Indian sports audience, the revenue prospects of sports in India cannot be stressed enough. Still, everything in India, like a big train, takes time to turn around. But when it does, it comes in steaming.