A new study from Juniper Research forecasts that future sports technologies, including professional sports wearables, in-game monitoring and the rapidly growing eSports channel, will see annual spend reach $3.4 billion by 2023.
This is up from just $700 million in 2018, posing a significant opportunity for agile start-ups and OTT players.
The new research, The Future of Sports Content: Technologies, Broadcast Strategies & eSports 2018-2023, found that these new technologies will infiltrate both broadcasting and sports participation, with real-time player tracking providing live statistics and concussion monitoring devices impacting in-game substitutions. It found that professional sports wearables will generate $2.6 billion by 2023; most of this attributable to hardware sales themselves.
Juniper recommends that broadcasters apply new technologies to drive audience engagement, with AR, cognitive highlights and 360-degree camera angles critical to providing immersive content via a premium media channel. In addition, broadcasters must seize the eSports opportunity; partnerships with games publishers or eSports leagues will allow the broadcast of exclusive content and media.
The company says that new technologies will change the experience of watching sport broadcasts in a number of ways. Interactive TV will enable viewers to select from different camera angles on the fly, so that they can switch to following a particular player, or seeing a play from a specific angle.
360 degree video, which has already been trialled at events including the Rio Olympics 2016, allows viewers to rotate the video they are watching on an axis, either by clicking, pressing a button, or moving their head if watching on a VR headset.
Juniper says that while there is now a wealth of 360° sports video content available on-demand online, mainly highlights at present, live media is expected to grow, although content is likely to stay short-form due to the potential of motion sickness and preferences for social watching of events.
Other enhancements to the technology include cognitive computing, which can pull-together almost real-time highlights and snapshots of key video footage. One example is the IBM's Watson-based ‘FIFA World Cup Highlight Machine'.
Augmented reality is also growing in popularity for sports viewing, with the addition of match facts and statistics visible on screen. Juniper believes that such content will be developed to display on smart glasses, allowing users to view media directly, without needing a TV and, coupled with cognitive highlights, we could see short-form snappy products which are pleasing on the eye and exciting to view, all created by AI.