Years of pandemic-driven uncertainties have driven sports leagues to pivot to data analytics and advanced video technologies to up their game.

Amid disrupted match schedules and closed-door matches, sports leagues have turned to data-driven predictive analytics and other advanced technologies to pivot monetization strategies and deliver better experiences to sports fans.

The market size for global sports analytics is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 21.3% between 2021 and 2028, according to estimates.

To gain an insight on how Over The Top (OTT) platforms, computer vision, and real-time data are being used to increase viewerships and buffer sports events against pandemic uncertainties DigiconAsia had a chat with Biplav Gautam, Head of Sports Content and Partnerships, APAC, Sportradar.

Biplav Gautam, Head, Sports Content and Partnerships, APAC, Sportradar

DigiconAsia: How are sports leagues using technology and analytics to create immersive experiences for fans?

Biplav: Today, it is all about digital channels where sports content is consumed in a more flexible and accessible way. Fans enjoy more content and access to players, more data and analytics, and more visually compelling news from the athletes and sports they love. This has led to leagues and sports enterprises tapping new technologies and analytics to engage sports fans.

The OTT platforms, for example, help sports leagues engage different fan types in a more direct manner. Through digital touchpoints, data is collected and used to learn and understand audience preferences so that adaptations can be quickly made to fine-tune content and personalize the viewing experience for fans.

Leagues are also tapping on fantasy games to draw interest to the sport and reach out to a wider and younger audience, adding excitement beyond the matches and creating deeper engagement with the game.

Behind all these technological innovations, data has been the game changer, and sports leagues can monetize their data as well as leverage insights to pivot, increase fan appeal, and grow their commercial potential. Through data analytics, the sports leagues can create an immersive experience featuring personalised content for fans to enhance overall enjoyment, loyalty and growth of the sport.

For example, the Korean football league (K League) launched K League TV, its OTT platform, in partnership with Sportradar in the midst of the pandemic, enabling the league to reach fans globally. All K League 1 and K League 2 matches are available live, as well as video on demand, highlights, clips, interviews and other content.

DigiconAsia: Which region is the hottest market for all leagues across traditional and non-traditional sports looking to grow and digitalize?

Biplav:Asia remains a massive growth opportunity for sports leagues. Traditional fan bases in domestic markets like Europe and the US are largely saturated, so leagues are looking to unlock the potential of Asia’s huge, young and digitally-savvy population.

This is very attractive to brands and sports entities, and the digital space is the natural domain to connect with this audience opportunity. 

Additionally, as more Asian athletes excel on a global stage, they fuel interest in their sports which leads to more fan interest and participation, thereby driving up commercial opportunities. 

DigiconAsia: How will AI, ML and computer vision determine the next frontier of the sports industry?

Biplav:From improving the current ways of capturing and delivering data to the rapid creation of new data-driven products like virtual sports, firms such as Sportradar continue to invest in technology and resources to transform the way sports data is being used to revolutionize the industry and enhance fan experience.

With computer vision, we are able to capture more data points than ever before, and using specialist cameras, we can interpret and understand sports from every angle and player on the pitch or court.

Such insights enable the development of new applications for sports data, offering deeper, richer and more engaging data for sports fans.

DigiconAsia: Two years into the pandemic, where does the sports industry stand right now and where is it headed?

Biplav:Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, tech-savvy sports fans have found alternative ways to follow and engage with their favorite leagues. While global lockdowns during the pandemic have accelerated this growth, we expect this trend to continue in the long run.

By powering sports coverage with technology, leagues are transforming how sports events are consumed and enjoyed while heightening the levels of fan engagement.

DigiconAsia thanks Biplav for his insights.

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