CES SPORTS ZONE: Three big lessons for brands – part 1

CES SPORTS ZONE: Three big lessons for brands – part 1

Technology is reshaping sports for fans: what do brands need to consider?

The relationship between sports and technology is one that continues to evolve. And evolve at a pace. This much was clear from the discussions taking place in the Sports Zone at CES this year.

One particularly notable statistic presented by the Sports Innovation Lab in their opening segment was that there’s been a three-fold increase in the number of dedicated sports technology companies entering the market over the past ten years.

What was most encouraging for those of us working on the commercial and marketing sides of the sports business, was that more of these companies and more of the conversation is focussed on the way technology is shaping sport for the audience, the fan, than ever before.

The implications and opportunities this is creating for brands – sports brands, tech companies, sponsors – are significant. And underneath the hood of the relatively well-worn topics discussed in Las Vegas were a few big themes worth taking note of. Over the course of this series, Jonathan Drakes, Strategy Director, Fuse and Author of Merge Sport: How technology will revolutionise sport for the fans covers three of these themes.

New players aren’t just buying rights, they’re changing the way we consume sport

Much of the conversation in the sports industry over the past few years has focussed on the influence of new entrants to the sports media market (Amazon, Twitter, DAZN etc.). Specifically, around the growth of OTT and subsequent fragmentation of both sports rights and viewing audiences.

But, while this is a significant development, those new players and the technology they bring with them are having a far broader impact on sport.

Josh Walker explained how companies, such as Amazon, are investing in a broad range of technologies that are changing how fans consume sports. From platforms that enhance the interactivity of the experience (for example, NFL’s partnerships with Overwatch and Twitch) to game updates and information delivered through voice interfaces and Virtual Assistants such as Alexa.

With these new technologies, comes new opportunity for brands.

Voice provides a highly interactive channel for brands deliver compelling messages around the sports experience. A beer brand recommending products in a stadium, or a sponsor brand taking ownership of information on a team. O2’s recent “Wear the Rose” Alexa-skill with England Rugby is a good example.

Greater interactivity around sports content can create opportunities for brands to be a bigger part of the conversation. For certain categories, brands will even be able to see direct return from sports content as it becomes clickable or shoppable.

But perhaps the most important lesson for brands is that these new players in the sports market have brought the characteristic “test and learn” mindset of the tech sector to sport. An approach I would encourage all sports brands and sponsors to fully embrace.

To read our full report on CES 2019 click here.

Jonathan Drakes, Strategy Director, Fuse and Author of Merge Sport: How technology will revolutionise sport for the fans