South by Southwest (SXSW) introduced SWSports, which provided an in-depth look at some of the hottest trends in the industry. By allowing experts to weigh in on multiple panels covering a wide range of topics, we got a snapshot into the future of the industry. The following topics are some of our favorites from SXSports 2015 that will change the world of sports technology:
A session on everyone’s mind: virtual reality
It’s no surprise that virtual reality (3-D interactive experience) will begin popping up into the world of sports. Stanford’s football team already uses virtual reality to review plays and give the players the opportunity to learn off the field. Derek Belch, an assistant football coach at Stanford, explains, “Using virtual reality will give the players a break from two-a-days and help them mentally prepare for situations.”
Virtual reality also helps athletes understand what their faults are and reenact plays that happened on the field. Robert Overweg, lead concept and innovation at TripleIT, says, “We can understand when a [soccer] player missed a penalty kick. We can measure the stress levels of that player using virtual reality.”
While virtual reality is starting to make an appearance, don’t expect to see full integration on the sidelines anytime soon. It’s an expensive technology that remains on the road to being a fully implemented tool in athletic performance.
The future of NASCAR and MLB sport technology
NASCAR and MLB are taking the reins to improve their team and fan experience. NASCAR has previously implemented camera technology that has helped shave seconds off of pit stops for teams. For the fans, NASCAR added Raceview during their broadcast to give fans a 3-D car experience. The future of NASCAR technology will showcase racer biometrics like reading a driver’s pulse, heart rate, and stress levels.
The future of MLB technology will include less intricate improvements such as having tickets pop up on your phone as you enter the stadium, assistance in finding parking spaces, as well as being able to see wait times for concession stand lines. “We don’t know what is next in tech, but we will get help to figure it out,” said panelist Bob Bowman, President and CEO of MLB Advanced Media. He continued with, “Our phones are our first screens, reality is second.”
Sports, marketing, and millennials
As millennials become a larger part of the coveted 18-49 demographic, the sports marketing industry is refining their approach when marketing to the age group. Media and brands are challenged to adjust their strategies in order to reach this demographic. NFL All-Pro Punter for the Colts, Pat McAfee understands millennials and their non-stop access to information. “They need to be WOWed. Tell me something I didn’t know before. What is the inside info?”
How fantasy sports are changing the game
Fantasy has transformed the fan experience. Fantasy Football has the largest audience tapping out at 15 million users. According to FanDuel, fantasy fans play anywhere from 17 to 24 hours a week on the app. ESPN Insider is also popular among fantasy sports fans. Last year, they broke fantasy records of 1.7 billion minutes that fans were logged into the game.
It was noted during the SXSports panel that there is an increase in television viewing for games that people would not normally watch if they weren’t involved with fantasy sports. It appears that some fans are becoming more interested in their fantasy teams than their favorite teams in the sport.
We learned from SXSports that there’s so much more to learn and technology will continue to reshape how both the athletes and fans engage with their respective sports. What were your key takeaways from SXSW and SWSports? Share in the comments below.