A look at how new technology is changing the way we view sports
We live in a time during which technology is changing and improving rapidly, and the impact on our day-to-day lives is usually pretty clear. And the world of sports is certainly no exception to this modern reality. While sports themselves remain relatively unchanged by technology (aside from instant replay, training techniques, and equipment), sports consumption has changed in numerous ways, with more changes likely on the horizon.
The Rise Of Streaming
This is the biggest change that we’ve already seen, and though it’s occurred gradually, it holds serious implications for various sports leagues and industries. Where once upon a time our best options for watching sports were to attend games, watch on television, or visit sports bars, we can now stream contests to our computers and mobile devices. Most major sports leagues have at least one streaming service to which users can subscribe without needing a full cable package. There are also some indirect apps that bring highlights and live sports to users, such as the Stadium app (which has become popular in 2017). This app has even partnered with Twitter, and will run 24 hours a day through the social network! Altogether apps like this one have made sports consumption more convenient and often more affordable – which could mean fewer cable packages and also fe
wer people going to real stadiums.
The Rise Of Fake Sports
You may have heard by now about the idea of professional sports leagues assisting the rise of eSports. This brand of gaming, in which massive competitions are held and viewed by millions online (some of whom even bet on outcomes), was already on the rise before associations like the NBA decided to invest. Now, there are organized leagues in which gamers perform through games like NBA 2k18, and people watch. As a sort of parallel to eSports, we’ve also seen the rise of something called virtual sports, a business in which people actually wager on the outcome of a virtual sporting event – such as a digital horse race or an animated soccer or tennis match. Right now it’s too early to tell if activities like these could actually supplant real sports for individual users. However, given partnerships like that of the NBA and the eSports industry, it might be fair to expect that “fake sports” could at least add a
new dimension to many of our sports fandom.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the rapid rise of virtual reality, we’ll also be seeing VR impact the ways in which we view and interact with spectator sports. An article was written about this subject, and began with the author discussing the experience of watching an NBA season opener from $600 courtside seats in Oakland, without leaving his home in New York City. Naturally he did this via VR (and specifically the Samsung Gear VR device), and his verdict was that watching sports in VR “isn’t great now, but it can be.” That article was written in the fall of 2015. VR is now two years further along in its evolution, and experiences like the one that writer covered are becoming more refined and more common. Watching live competition in VR is going to be a fairly widespread reality in short time.
For my money, nothing will ever beat being in an actual stadium for a live sporting event. There’s something about it that can’t be replicated via technology. But for the times when that’s not an option, these different tech-based options are getting more and more exciting.