Elite sport often relies on innovation in technology to push the limits of the fan experience. As one of UK’s premier league soccer (football) teams launches its own innovation lab, we look at the intersection of immersive technology and sport.
In the UK, Arsenal Football Club recently launched the Arsenal Innovation Lab to work with startup companies to identify ground-breaking new fan experiences to move the club’s business forward. The lab will enable the club to work with entrepreneurial businesses to explore the following areas:
- Improving matchday experience
- Engaging fans globally
- Transforming commercial partners’ offering
- Building a retail operation for the future
- Wildcard – an opportunity to come forward with ideas, whatever their focus, to help take the club forward
Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal’s chief commercial officer, said, “We know there are many brilliant startup companies with creative and innovative ideas and we are looking forward to working with them. The club has always placed a big emphasis on being pioneering and innovative and we plan to continue this by working with smart-thinking businesses to help us identify ground-breaking ideas to take us forwards.”
Applications close on the 12th October 2017, for a ten-week programme in which successful candidates will be mentored by senior business leaders from the club, have the opportunity to test and demonstrate products or services in live environments as well as the potential for investment.
Stuart Marks, the chairman of the delivery partner, innovation specialist L Marks, said, “Though based in London, Arsenal has global support which presents amazing opportunities for new businesses working on digital fan engagement and other relevant solutions to work with the club.” Entry is open for any company worldwide.
Elite sport is certainly leading the way in the adoption of technologies like virtual / augmented / mixed reality. Since the rise of the major brand advertising in the back half of the last century no other vertical has created such a continual and constant platform for engagement, branding and reach. In the U.S., the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL have been using the power of sport to create incredible commercial return.
Immersive technology is the game-changer
Goldman Sachs predicts the immersive tech market will hit $80 billion in 2025. Digi Capital on the other hand believes the AR/VR market will hit $150 billion in revenue by 2020.
Augmented reality has the power to personalize the marketing and sales experience in a profoundly impactful way – it directly involves the customer in the process of learning about the value of these products and solutions. As a consequence, the customer retains more critical knowledge because they are engaged in sensory, intellectual, and emotional interactions.
Augmented reality also has the ability to engage audiences in real-time whilst adding to the overall fan experience. This works on both a B2C and B2B level with direct points of sale and brand marketing available through multiple experiences off-set against the perfect narrative of live sport.
By using innovative marketing platforms to connect with prospects and customers on an emotional level, it’s possible to transcend the traditional marketing and sales relationships and cultivate customers that are enthusiastic about what the solutions will do for them. Sport is the ready-made vehicle with a globally engaged audience. Several examples are emerging already with the likes of SEEK, FanBoard and MVP Interactive using augmented reality in intelligent and smart scenarios that elevate the sports experience whilst facilitating emotional connections and unlocking commercial potential.
Immersive tech and digital reality offer the potential to bring the viewer, both inside and outside the arena so close to the action and connected in a way never previously believed possible. It has been the final frontier for fan engagement, brand connectivity and reach. It is only now that potential is being realized as leagues, franchises, athletes and governing bodies are harnessing the tech to explore commercial possibility.
Elite sport and sport broadcasting have worked hand in hand for decades. With capabilities like live streaming, mobile technology, and multiple device viewing, there is now a lot more opportunity, choice and dexterity in the hands of the consumer.
While sport is the vehicle reaching more people than ever before, consumers have increasingly high demands on the quality, standard, depth and interactivity of what they consume.
What is certain is that we are fast moving beyond the ‘trial and error’ experimental stage. Those that learn how to monetize technology and move quickly will activate huge broadcast, brand and consumer revenues.
The World Virtual/Augmented Sports Innovation Summit, to be held in San Francisco on November 15-16, 2017 will look at the intersection of sport and technology, bringing together the leaders from across the entire sporting ecosystem. It will showcase the latest in immersive technology, alongside commercial, marketing and performance strategies from the global sports industry. For more information on the summit and for registration details, click here.