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Playing it right on the virtual space- How sports engagement apps are wooing investors globally

Friday July 14, 2017,

4 min Read

Consider a few facts- Amazon, in an effort to enter the live sports streaming and sports engagement scenario, has made a deal with National Football league (NFL) for a whopping $50 million. Through this deal, it has acquired the rights to stream 10 Thursday Night big event games during the next season.

Even the biggest clubs, which apparently need not worry about brand presence such as Manchester United, are investing significantly on the mobile fan engagement experience. Recently, the club launched the subscription-based live streaming MUTV app, apart from offering fans live broadcasts, player interactions, pre and post-match commentary, interactions with MU legends, be-the-coach with Jose Mourinho and many other interesting facets.

Sports based apps are gathering a steady interest from investors as they cater to the masses. By providing information on a specific sport or a club, team etc. they have already solved half the problem of creating a user base. Due to the inherent love for a sport or a team, at least a set of people who follow the same will end up using the app. Additional exciting features such as live quizzes, games, match predictions etc, ensure retention and often successfully turn casual sports viewers into avid buffs.

Earlier, not much thought was given into digitization of the sports viewing process as conventional methods of communication such as TV and print had a more than fair share of sporting coverage. Since they provided significant amount of information, there was little investment in offering an alternate sports viewing experience through more evolved options such as digital platforms.

Since broadcasting a sports event could not be much altered with, what else could digital app developers focus on? Audience interaction and engagement of course! And digitization was needed to realize this process. Suddenly, apps started becoming a part of the sports culture in a huge way. In 2015, Barcelona launched the first QR Code based ticketing process, and it currently possesses one of the most enriched sports apps.

Sports apps is a great way to personalize the experience for a sports fans. It also helps in huge data sourcing that can help a team establish a deeper relationship with the fan. And this leads to a far bigger commerce, something that’s beyond the revenue from streaming rights on TV or mobile platforms.

Globally, the number of local tournaments for different sports has also contributed to the popularity of sports engagement apps. The birth of various cash-rich tournaments such as IPL, KFC Big Bash League, UFC, etc, have made sports a sustained topic of discussion, and investors are reaping the benefits of audiences being hooked on to their favorite engagement apps 24*7. In many cases, team owners in tournaments are associating with the apps as well. A case in point being Gujarat Lions’ owner Intex Technologies’ collaboration with Rooter, a unique, real-time sports’ fan engagement app that has firmly established its foothold as the pioneer sports engagement platform in India. Through such collaborations, team owners want to ensure that the interaction with fans does not remain restricted to only during the match, but continues round-the-clock.

Increasing online viewership of sports is also another factor that has led to the steady growth of sports engagement apps. Advertisers clamour over each other to grab an advertising spot during sports events, which combined with the live engagement of users and the data collected on a real-time basis, ensures that investors get good returns against their money.

The sports broadcasting landscape has diversified extensively. Companies and digital platforms are looking to enrich their portfolios with various sports and fill their apps with info, trivia, games, live interactions and various other features to attract more users to an app. Apps have emerged as the go-to platform to experience sports in the future, and going by the baby steps, they are also going to be the ultimate focus of investors looking to leverage the unparalleled popularity that sports enjoy in various forms across the globe.