Sport, unlike other forms of entertainment, lends itself to short bursts of consumption and technology is increasingly becoming an enabler in that process. Technology is driving innovations in how we watch sport and even changing the reason why we watch it in the first place.
Passionate sports fans, especially avid armchair fans, have a scarce resource – our old friend Father Time. We simply don’t have enough hours in the day to watch all the games and action that, in a perfect world, we would like to watch.
Of course, television has historically assisted, in some ways, by offering condensed highlight shows. An example of this for soccer (football) fans in the UK is BBC Sport’s Match of the Day (MOTD), which airs on Saturday night and has held a permanent and iconic place in the weekly viewing schedule since 1964.
Leagues, broadcasters and technology companies can now provide content that only shows the exciting moments (touchdowns, goals, tries etc) or even allow viewers to concentrate on players or statistics which are integral to their fantasy teams. Today’s sports viewer is provided with an array of rich ways to experience this kind of bite-sized action, as well. For instance, MOTD can be watched for free on the BBC’s iPlayer.
A recent article in the New York Times highlights the efforts of two US technology companies that are enabling sports fans to personalize what, how, when and where they view sport.
The first company, Thuuz, from Palo Alto, California, is the brainchild of venture capitalist Warren Packard. A quick visit to the homepage will give you an idea of what the company is all about:
“Don’t miss a moment of Madness. 100 games in three weeks? No problem with Thuzz!”
Reading further, you’ll begin to understand how Thuuz can make such promises for NCAA’s College Basketball March Madness. The company states that it:
- Follows every game
- Posts an excitement level
- Lets you know how and when best to watch the game (by alerting you through email or text message)
Thuuz processes streams of play-by-play data and calculates excitement by:
“…using a set of proprietary game excitement algorithms that ensure objectivity and consistency. The output of our algorithms is a continuous flow of game excitement ratings over the course of each game, on a 0 – 100 scale”.
The algorithms took months to be finalized, but in simple terms they take into account the pace of the game, the closeness of the contest and the novelty of the game.
The service obviously makes it easier for the passionate fan to go straight to the exciting and meaningful action – either by accessing the game on the internet, or by using the DVR. The list of sports goes beyond basketball and includes hockey, baseball, soccer, cricket (surely a great idea for a 5 day test!) and football. While the alert service is free for sports fans, cable providers and carriers pay for the service.
The second technology company is a mobile, fantasy gaming startup from New York called Pre Play Sports, which was created in the spring of 2010 by a group of former Cornell University students.
The company states ambitiously that it represents:
“..the future of fantasy sport, giving fans the ultimate chance to prove they can predict what will happen next in a live game”.
Fans are able to make their football predictions through an application which was launched in September 2010 for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It is also now available for the Android. Users of the Pre Play Sports app are awarded points for predicting the outcome of a certain play. The more unlikely the outcome, the more points are scored. The app also provides instantaneous updates, scores, and play-by-play information. According to reports, the app has the feel of a video game layered over a sports broadcast. Pre Play Leagues have also been created.
The New York Jets have partnered with Pre Play Sports, experimenting with the company’s technology and offering live streaming to its fans at New Meadowlands stadium in New Jersey.
Unlike the Thuuz service, Pre Play’s app is only free for 2 weeks and then it is $4.99 for a full season subscription.
According to co-founder Andrew Daines:
“We’re trying to create a new type of fantasy experience every step of the way during a game, rather than just a cumulative thing like in traditional fantasy. What our game does is pretty much how most people watch games already”.
As stated by Daines, the attraction of the Pre Play app is that:
“It takes the game and makes it more personal”.
The growth and popularity of fantasy sport is making sports consumption increasingly individual. The development of exciting new technologies will continue to enable the personalization of sports content even further.