The future of sport is here

Nothing brings people together like sports. Many fans fall in love with their team at an early age, developing a passion that endures over a lifetime. But technology is changing the fan experience; AI and OTT delivery and soon 5G, will dramatically alter how viewers consume sports, at the stadium, at home, or on the go, so how do media companies make fans feel as though they are part of the game?

And there are few moments in people’s lives that are as euphoric as seeing their favourite team or hero win big.

Sport has the power to create loyalty that can be passed down from generation to generation, uniting people around a brand. It inspires people to participate, follow and unite into communities of fans.

The challenge for sports organisations

Technology increasingly brings the potential for disruption. Many traditional revenue streams are under threat as new rights and sponsorship models emerge that compel sports organisations to find alternative sources of income. In the battle for consumer attention, sports organisations are facing fierce competition for fan loyalty.

As the sports industry goes through a period of unprecedented change, the ability to recognise this market disruption and respond effectively is more critical than ever. To succeed, sports businesses must defend and grow their fanbases, and build sustainable business models that ensure ongoing profitability

Case Study: Leatherhead FC

"Leatherhead Football Club or ‘The Tanners’ as they are known, play in the 7th tier of English Football and are made up of delivery drivers, car salesmen and shop assistants. While it may not seem like your typical AI cohort, the club’s management began working with IBM Watson early this season to provide pre- and post-match analysis, as well as opposition scouting, to coaches and players, alike.

A key challenge when working with any new technology is complexity. For Leatherhead’s management team of Nikki Bull and Martin McCarthy, ease of use of the technology was critical, as they and their team would have little time to learn the nuances of the programs.

IBM’s solution? Artificial intelligence."

IBM and the future of sport

Based on research, points‑of‑view from subject matter experts, and interviews with stakeholders in leading sports businesses, IBM has developed five strategic tenets for sports organisations: understand market disruption, learn from media and entertainment businesses, deliver unparalleled digital fan experiences, adopt the right fan engagement technologies and secure enterprise capabilities.

We look first at the forces disrupting the sports industry and how organisations must adapt to remain frontrunners. From transforming their marketing strategies to delivering enthralling digital fan experiences, we show how organisations can learn new best practices from peers in other industries. We then explore innovative technologies for fan engagement, showing where organisations can prioritise investments to yield maximum value. Finally, we consider how sports organisations can develop the enterprise capabilities required to bring technology‑driven initiatives to life.

Further Reading

AI fast-forwards video for sports highlights

Innovation and hyper-personalized user experiences let broadcasters engage with viewers like never before.

Change to win: achieving competitive advantage in the sports industry

Based on research, points‑of‑view from subject matter experts, and interviews with stakeholders in leading sports businesses, IBM has developed five strategic tenets for sports organisations.