If you watch a live sports event today chances are you having a very different experience to ten years ago. In January SCREENZ published an article detailing how the cost of live TV had plummeted for sports and events. In this article we examine the effect technology has had on experiencing sport, the rise of social media and how the internet has changed the nature of how fans interact with the world’s biggest sport in the world: football.
The first televised event to be broadcast live was the 1936 Berlin Olympic games according to the Guinness World Records. Since that historic moment live sport and technology have been been inseparable from each other.
Evolution Digital informs that the biggest draw of live sport is to watch the drama unfold in real time. It goes on to state that with the ability to find results immediately on the internet the amount of viewers recording live games has dropped. In a world of instant information how fans watch live sport has changed considerably. The website also writes that with the rise of television technologies such as HDTV, viewers can experience a live game that compares to watching the sport live in the stadium.
The increased home comfort experience coupled with the increase in ticket prices, and the information fans can receive from the internet has had an effect on fan attendance. For example in the US The Business Side of Sports states that this has led to a drop in attendance watching live NFL matches of up to 2 million fans.
As sport stadiums struggle to bring fans in many media outlets are looking to capitalize on the increase in live TV viewing combined with social media. Ad Age writes that TV viewing and online viewing are coming together as sports fans chatter on social media to discuss results for sports such as baseball. Bob Bowman, CEO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media believes that fans are watching sports on two screens, the live sport on “the largest screen they can find.” The second screen where fans interact is to compliment the experience.
The internet has revolutionized how fans interact with sport. Human Kinetics wrote that newspapers, where fans traditionally got their news on sport, are declining as more fans turn to instant updates over the internet. They also point to the rise in popularity of fantasy leagues that are played in conjunction with live sports. Online gaming sites have also changed how fans can interact with their chosen sport by combining news and online betting together. For example Betfair which extensively previews football games regularly updates fans on upcoming matches in the English Premier League with information that fans can use when watching the game live. The live sports experience has expanded far beyond simply watching the game unfold.
Football news and analysis site Goal offers a counter argument and write that the internet is turning viewers off live sport. It reports on how Sky’s Premier League match viewing figures were down by 19% in UK compared to the previous year. This has led to Sky and BT to heavily invest in online content such as apps to adapt to how audiences have changed their methods of watching sport.
This surge in investment for online content is due to the rights to the Premiership being sold for UK£5.14 billion (NZ$9.08 billion). Each Premiership match is now worth over UK£10 million, which is 70% more than under the previous contract. If live sport figures are dropping then it is natural for BT and Sky to try and evolve to include online interaction.
Watch live sports on the TV and a viewer can look up real time match stats on their phones, or get the opinion of the favourite pundit from a different website. When the 1936 Olympics games were broadcast only a small minority of people could watch it now every aspect of sport is available to the fans.