How we will consume sport in the future

22.03.2023 15:30

Colorful from science, research results

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Elite sport will become more immersive and personalized in the future
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In the future, AI will take on more tasks in sports reporting, which will be more personalized and immersive. New technologies and social developments have changed the expectations and demands of consumers when it comes to sports content. A future study by the Center for Sports and Management (CSM) at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management now shows how the consumer behavior of spectators of sports events will change in the future – and what demands this could place on the sports media product and its production .

Follow a major sporting event from the perspective of an athlete in front of the television? Choose the commentators themselves on the screen? What sounds like a futuristic version of media sports production could actually soon be standard. As part of the international future study “Top-tier Sports Product and its Production in 2030” by the Center for Sports and Management (CSM) at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, 99 experts from a wide variety of areas (including sports associations , media companies, broadcasters, sports consulting agencies) made their forecasts in two Delphi studies as to what the near future of sports media products and their production might look like. The results show that top-class sport could become much more immersive in the future, with viewers immersing themselves in a (partially) virtual world while consuming; in addition, the events produced could be more emotional and better tailored to the needs of the viewers. The younger generation in particular is driving these developments with their media usage behavior and is likely to benefit the most from this development.

In the first study, selected experts used the Delphi method to evaluate 14 projections on the future of top-class sport as a product. The method is a systematic, multi-stage approach to assessing future developments as precisely as possible. In a second study, another panel of experts assessed 11 projections of future production of elite sporting events. Among other things, the experts assessed the probability of a certain projection occurring, how desirable it is and what effects this would have.

The experts came to a unanimous conclusion: the sports audience and their preferences could have a much stronger influence on the production of top-class sports than before. On the one hand, social changes and, on the other hand, technical innovations associated with digitization contribute to this. According to experts, for example, algorithms could filter out the individual interests and preferences of viewers in the future, which should make personalization possible. This means that only content that is of interest to the user would be transmitted. In Formula 1 broadcasts, fans of racing driver Lewis Hamilton could, for example, see pictures from his cockpit perspective more often than fans of other racing drivers. Live data, for example on athletes’ performance values, could also be integrated into the personalized sports broadcast in the future. In general, according to the experts, viewers will be much more active in the production of sports content in the future than before. Depending on their needs, they could add digital overlays to content such as the placement of previously taken penalties or the golf swings of certain professionals and have them displayed.

In the future, however, the production of sports content in the media will be influenced and changed primarily by artificial intelligence (AI). Instead of camera operators filming live events, AI-controlled cameras could record matches. According to the experts, increasing automation will make it possible to produce content more decentrally and independently of location. Accordingly, media production is likely to take place remotely and thus more sustainably in the future, which could reduce staff on site and thus also significantly reduce the CO2 footprint. In addition, the experts surveyed expect the mobile consumption of sports content to increase. Instead of watching live sport on the TV screen, it is predicted that the younger generation will primarily watch highlight clips on Instagram or TikTok in the future. Virtual worlds, i.e. computer-assisted simulated environments, are also becoming increasingly relevant. Experts estimate that by 2030, an increasing proportion of viewers will experience sports broadcasts in a purely virtual world.

The study was financially and non-materially supported by the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga and Amazon Web Services. The concept, methodology, implementation and content of the studies were the sole responsibility of the research team at the Center for Sports and Management at WHU.

Information about the authors

Prof. Dr. Sascha L. Schmidt

Sascha L. Schmidt is a professor, chair holder and academic director of the Center for Sports and Management (CSM) at the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Düsseldorf. At the same time, he is an affiliate at the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH) and one of the initiators and senior lecturers of the MIT Sports Entrepreneurship Bootcamp and the Transformational Technologies online course. His research focuses on growth and diversification strategies as well as preparing professional sports for future developments.

apl. Prof. Dr. Dominik Schreyer

Dominik Schreyer is adjunct (apl.) Professor of Sports Economics at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Düsseldorf and Director of the Center for Sports and Management (CSM). In his research, he is particularly concerned with the demand for sports (e.g. stadium and TV demand). He has published 35 articles in reputable international peer-reviewed journals including Economic Inquiry, European Sport Management Quarterly, Games and Economic Behavior, Technological Forecasting & Social Change and the Journal of Vocational Behavior.

Dominik Geissler

Dominik Geissler is a PhD student at the Center for Sports and Management (CSM) at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. Dominik has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in innovation management from the University of St. Gallen, Stanford University and the NOVA School of Business & Economics. As part of his doctorate, Dominik is investigating to what extent the interaction of technology and society will change the media consumption behavior of top-class sports in the future. Previously, he worked for three years as a management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group, where he advised clients in various industries and countries on the topics of digitization and technology innovation.

Scientific contact person:
Dominik Geissler, Center for Sports and Management: [email protected]

– Schmidt, S. L., Geissler, D., & Schreyer, D. (2023): Top-tier sports product and its production. Center for Sports and Management (CSM), Düsseldorf/Vallendar: WHU.