How will Augmented Reality enhance future fan engagement in sport?

Augmented Reality (AR) has pounced into multiple industries, and it is here to stay. It has boomed in demand due to its influence to entice consumers to buy into further services and products that a traditional experience doesn’t fill the void for. The sports industry is a prime example; it has revolutionised the home watching experience for fans. COVID19 has turbocharged the growth of AR understandably as we’re forced to step into a new era of digitalisation while socialising remains limited. This weeks blog will discover the future impact AR will make towards viewing the game at home compared to the stadium.

Sports fans enjoying a beverage before a UEFA Champions League match. Image can be found here:

During the pandemic, it has become imperative for sports clubs, partners and stakeholders to keep their supporters connected throughout these unprecedented circumstances. With the lack of spectator attendances at sports stadiums, there’s no other choice than to make the home watching experience an extraordinary one.

Live digital stats during match-play, image can be found here:

BT Sport and EE are two parties that are attempting to fill in this void through an AR partnership allowing BT Sport consumers to access a virtual in-stadium experience through the BT Sport app. The app will enable fans to watch games together through a watch together feature, gain rights to viewing in-game stats such as pace and distance coverage alongside giving fans a 360-degree virtual stadium experience allowing them to explore different parts of sporting venues. This innovative joint-venture keeps BT Sport and EE ahead of the sporting curve by developing their collaborate fan engagement strategy into the next phase of digitalisation. It will lure their current audience and new audiences to jump on the wave of modern sports entertainment.

Valencia AF matchday picture, image can be found here:

Spanish soccer club Valencia AF is the first La Liga club to form an AR partnership which will integrate AR through their mobile app with the Canadian tech company, ImagineAR. The newly developed app will not only provide Valencia fans with a new pathway of entertainment but allows Valencia to collect further marketing intelligence on their audiences to generate a more robust understanding of their consumers.

Valencia’s involvement in AR isn’t only for their consumers and their benefit; this recent partnership is a follow-on project from the initiation of ‘Startup Valencia’ back in 2017. Startup Valencia is a private & non-profit company designed to focus their attention on upcoming innovations within smart stadia and sports medicine. Not only is this a jaw-dropping time for sports fans, but also a new financial revenue opportunity for sports businesses.

NBABet Stream screenshot, image can be found here:

The NBA has been impacting big time through AR as the league established betting-focused telecasts earlier this year. This entails in a broadcast option allowing consumers to stay updated with live betting odds. On this note, sports broadcasting will benefit enormously from AR’s integration in the at-home experience. Global sports media rights are worth close to $50bn this year, which is heavily leveraged by sports broadcasting for major sports. This financial worth has a strong possibility to increase considering the impact AR brings to delivering engaging broadcasts which will result in higher traffic to the broadcasting channel.

Digital mosaic of Andy Murray, image can be found here:

Despite mass spectator stadium attendances still being unconfirmed in sport, what could AR integrations look like upon consumers returning? Well, seeing the popularity rise for fans tuning into virtual broadcasts in-stadium video boards, this could become a sales opportunity for sports stadiums to boosts profits. For example, allowing season ticket holders/premium broadcast subscribers the largest space on videoboards, a virtual social media MOSAIC during the half-time break alongside digital avatars available to download through club apps providing live consumer updates on a particular factor during a match.

Whether you’re a supporter of AR for the home or in-stadium experience, it has revolutionised fan engagement in every shape or form. It’s connected global fanbases in a way that hasn’t been seen before through technology, and the influence is only going to grow. The home viewing experience appears to be captivating sports fans efficiently through exclusive features to access throughout live sports broadcasts which allow the consumer to feel as if they’re in the stadium. AR’s leverage for home watching experiences is only building up the appetite for fans to return to sports stadiums.

What do you think the future could hold between AR and fan engagements inseparable relationship? Could broadcasting revenue become the most significant contributor to sports finance? Will the industry begin to operate entirely from data-driven insights? Plus, is this a healthy transition for an ever-evolving world of sport?


Published by Ash

I'm a First-Class Graduate in Sports Business Management who has worked across Local Government, Sport and the Third Sector. Throughout my career, I've developed a thriving passion to promote sport being used as a tool to bring positivity to the world we live in. This ethos has inspired me to create a website which champions this value through comprehensive online content for you to gain value from. Join me on this journey of discovering what sport can do to enhance society.

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