Over the past two years, everything has changed.
If you zoom out and view the professional sports industry with eyes as critical as an in-game overhead camera, you’ll see that everything about it has changed too.
From measuring player performance to a growing roster of diverse investors betting on and benefitting from major league wins, your grandpa’s favorite pastime doesn’t resemble today’s ball game whatsoever.
If SportTechie’s annual flagship State of the Industry conference panels were any indication of what’s to come at the intersection of pro sports and technology, all signs point to enhanced experiences for all sports fans—exclusive content, special access to courtside experiences, and more betting opportunities mean more ways for fans to buy into their favorite franchises.
Want the play-by-play on exactly how the game is changing?
Study the following four stand-out insights from SportTechie’s 2022 panelists:
- It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what they are—Professional sports teams are going ALL IN on NFTs.
Be honest — do you know what NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are?
Whether you’re all-in or all-out-of-sorts about NFTs, one thing is clear: NFTs allow professional sports teams to score big with fans in new, innovative, and impactful ways.
Major league franchises and everyone’s favorite hometown teams alike are transforming both live-captured and highly produced content into exclusive collectible digital art pieces. Taking it one step further, they also imagine that NFT-ownership will eventually act as a fan’s point of access to exclusive digital or in-person experiences, in addition to being an exclusive piece of content. (Everyone loves a twofer!)
So, in the future, will kids grow up with exclusive-footage NFTs instead of bubble gum trading cards? To put it simply, probably, yes.
In fact in the past year, NBA Top Shot the official licensing dealer of the NBA’s biggest moments has made over $600 million in sales—potentially making it the most successful NFT-related sports platform to date.
That’s something most brands would drool over.
For comparison, last year a career auctioneer sold a pristine Topps trading card of famous basketballer Michael Jordan in his rookie years for $738,000.
To put it plainly, the debt of being behind on emerging trends adds up.
It doesn’t matter if you get it or you don’t — it’s virtually impossible to not get on board when millions of other brands and fans rally behind new technology.
We can’t wait to see what the other teams and leagues do with NFTs as tradable assets and exclusive experience generators. Our one suggestion? Make everyone a VIP, please!
- Brands aren’t just marketing to passion points, they’re technology companies now, too.
As NFTs emerge and evolve in the sports space, we’re starting to see sports teams trade in the entertaining fandom reputation because they want to be recognized as tech innovators, too.
When a sports brand begins to think like a tech company, all kinds of opportunities for approaching and developing fan experiences differently appear—like Chicago Bulls’ VP of Marketing, Dan Moriarty said’ “Having a sub-standard user experience, that isn’t supported by a strong digital presence when you’re coming to an arena, isn’t going to be accepted anymore.”
Creative marketers now need to ideate for two fan experiences—how one enters the arena digitally versus in-person; plus, you’ve got to consider how they each might share their entrance experience on social.
Because partnerships between traditional technology companies and sports teams have helped create some of the most innovative app solutions and micro-communities available to fans today, the pressure is on for sports teams to keep the innovative, engaging experiences coming.
Plus, as sports betting and bids become more tied to in-game moments and predicting specific team members’ moves on the field, the more real the veil of control and investment becomes for the fan. We’re curious to know what sports betting companies you’re putting your money on! Sound off and @psforbrands on social!
- Teams know the value of Real-Time Workflow.
We’ve said this time and again, but to us: Real-Time Workflow is both a process and technology strategy.
When Cleveland Cavaliers CEO Len Komorski explains the upgrades in the team’s home arena, the newly-modernized Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, one thing is clear: enhancing the fan experience is at the center of how the design team thinks when planning and building new venues.
Incorporating state-of-the-art technology in the building’s exterior design allows the creative team to plan thematic lighting that attracts nearby visitors and locals with its beautiful glowing hues.
Plus, upgrading system technology so WiFi is always reliable helps photographers deliver courtside and stageside images and videos directly to the stakeholders, influencers, and partners that need them.
With tech stack integrations with Slack, Greenfly, and Slate, PhotoShelter for Brands users can now also quickly and easily access all their content from multiple platforms—they can browse search and their media libraries for instantly usable content, share media library content to influencers and stakeholders or post to social in seconds.
While Real-Time Workflow once meant taking and sharing your images instantly in one fell swoop, the true measurement of a successful Real-Time Workflow is when an organization is able to access, share and distribute content from wherever, to whomever, whenever it wants.
Want to learn how to make your team’s workflow easier? Let’s chat.
- Teams understand that an athlete’s brand is an extension of their brand.
The true impact of a college athlete on their team’s brand image has never been easy to measure, but with the new Name-Image-Likeness guidelines in college athletics, it’s pretty easy to see how influential student-athletes can be beyond their sport.
While sharing an image from the school’s official team account may generate hundreds of likes, the student-athlete featured in the image could share the same exact photo on their own Instagram account and generate thousands of likes, follows, and re-shares.
But how exactly does this help the team?
More and more, sports are becoming leagues made of stars—personality and talent combined, which in turn grows fandom for the team. Head to any NBA game and you’ll find jersey allegiance to players almost as much as you will to a specific team. For instance, do you see Golden State Warriors jerseys in the wild or [Steph] Curry jerseys more often? Similarly, Lebron fans follow him because they’re loyal to the man, his sports career, and his humanitarian work—and they’ll follow him no matter if he’s in Cleveland, Miami, Los Angeles, or retired.
Nowadays, sports fans love players as much as they love their hometown teams, so partnering together on content and sharing audiences is the only sustainable way for brands and players to optimize the way they work together! When one person wins, the team wins, and vice versa. Teamwork truly makes the dream worth it.
Did you hear any important insights or catch any soundbites from SportTechie’s State Of The Industry that we might’ve missed? Share it with us and shout us out on social: @PSforBrands.
The Sports and Technology Industry Innovations and Partnerships That Makes Sense in 2022 is written by Larissa D Green for stories.photoshelter.com