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As the competitive US$700bn global sports sector heats up, deepening fan engagement via tech creativity (from Virtual Reality to esports) is becoming essential to rights owners and broadcasters’ strategies.

Fan engagement occupied delegates’ discussion at a recent Sports Analytics Conference in Lon- don hosted by KPMG, the professional services consultancy that places the global sports market’s value between US$600bn and US$700bn a year.

Simon Green (pictured, below), Head of BT Sport, part of the subscription-funded UK broad- caster BT TV, stated that tech-driven content had been crucial to ensuring that the BT Sport brand stood out in a relentlessly driven market.

















This has seen BT Sport add VR, ultra-HD 4K broadcasts and the fast-emerging esports (profes- sional competitive gaming) to its standard linear TV coverage, which includes expensive live English Premier League soccer matches.

“VR is not a huge investment now but we had about 35,000 people using it during a game,” Green said. “In addition to their 2D viewing, it was an add-on to appeal to a wider audience and differentiated us as a broadcaster. It is important for us to tell stories outside of traditional linear TV, and VR is good for doing that.”

Matt Chrisp, Commercial Analytics Director at beIN Media Group, the Qatar-headquartered entertainment conglomerate, added that sports teams and clubs would start placing value on their VR rights. “Most clubs are trying to protect their brand so they will soon start selling those.”

Esports and next-gen media

To understand what future generations of au- diences might also expect from BT Sport, the company has broadcast esports, the competitive-gaming activity that is rapidly growing into a professional spectator sport played on computers but watched live online and at venues.

“It doesn’t drive a lot of audience for us,” Green noted. “But we had it because it is an experimental push to see how it will affect linear broadcast.”

Instagram, the messaging app, has turned into a busy outlet for the National Basketball Association (NBA), the US professional basketball league, said Lee Walker, Global Managing Editor at Bleacher Report, the international online sports portal.

Bleacher Report has the exclusive Instagram rights for NBA events because…

For more about sports data and fan engagement, download TechMutiny Issue No.16

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