By Mrugesh Desai, Regional Vice President, North America, Accedo
Summer is almost here and it’s an exciting time to be a sports fan!
The NHL and NBA finals have come and gone, with two teams capturing the first ever title for their respective cities! The Major League Baseball season is underway. A Master’s golf tournament of epic proportions is still fresh in everybody’s mind. The Cricket World Cup is being lit up by stunning catches. Not to mention, the UEFA Champions League Final and Anthony Joshua getting beat by John Ruiz Jr. in a heavyweight upset for the ages. It seems that historic moments are being written each week, recently!
Fans have a lot to get excited about – and no shortage of options for watching. More than ever, fans are turning to digital devices to watch live games as well as for after-the-match scores, highlights and news stories.
- 56% of Millennials use streaming sites and apps to watch live sports.
- Almost 60% of them use apps or social media to consume scores and highlights.
- Over 65% stream sports using a mobile device.
With a growing number of options, the competition to attract and retain fans is getting more intense. From general all-sports options to specialized services for diehard fans, more OTT players, established networks, leagues and teams are all getting into the game.
Amongst a growing field, how does a sports service stand out? Below, we’ll look at the three main ways sports streaming services can ensure they own the podium.
#1 Turn Viewers Into Superfans (Data-Driven UX)
Traditional pay TV dominates the live sports arena. But the competition is heating up.
- 82% of sports fans would trim pay TV if they could access live sports elsewhere.
- 52% would pay a premium to watch live sports on a wider range of devices.
- 56% would like access to more interactive content, such as stats, interviews, and social engagement with other fans during live sports events.
The digital sports service has one huge advantage over its traditional competitors: data – lots of it. Every second, digital sports services capture hundreds of data points on each user’s behavior. By tracking, measuring and analyzing this wealth of information, a service provider can build a clear picture of how fans are interacting with the UI.
When it comes to user experience for sports, research shows simplicity is key. Every moment a user spends trying to find the content they need, the risk of churn increases. Collecting, analyzing and A/B testing user behavior data plays a key part in improving the flow and performance of the user experience by reducing cognitive overload and eliminating the obstacles between the user and the content they want.
This deluge of data also allows digital sports services to build a variety of touch points, both inside and outside the stadium, into a holistic picture of the user. At the granular level, a fan of say hockey may be uninterested in content featuring cricket, but very interested in season ticket discounts for their beloved St. Louis Blues. Further integration of video data analytics and marketing automation platforms like JUMPTVallows teams, leagues and sports services to tailor both the user experience and content to unique behaviors and preferences. The result: more fan engagement, less churn.
More than “porting” the pay TV sports experience to mobile and connected TV devices, the winning digital sports experience integrates digital behaviors, preferences and possibilities.
# 2 Going Beyond the Remote (Voice-Enabled UX)
Don’t worry, the era of throwing the remote control when the other team scores isn’t going anywhere just yet. But while voice-enabled assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant are still emerging, they have huge potential to revolutionize the way we watch sports.
The traditional remote control limits the user to a set of buttons, simple pre-engineered instructions from device to device. This form of communication was enough for simple tasks, like changing channels or adjusting the volume. But enabling the use of natural spoken language to interact with the user experience results in a whole new ballgame.
Unlike their traditional counterparts, today’s digital sports experiences offer a new dimension of interactive content. The advent of voice-enabled controls provides a fresh way to navigate it. Ease-of-use and access multiply tenfold with the introduction of voice-enabled control over the traditional TV remote. Functions like searching for current games and navigating statistics become easier. Spoken commands reduce the time required to call up relevant information or switch away from views of the playing field in the heat of the moment.
At Accedo, we envision a voice-enabled sports experience that not only expands the variety of inputs available, but creates a unique, responsive and personalized connection. Voice input data is unique to each user, taking into account particular preferences, vocal characteristics and intonations. Response to these subtle nuances in vocal expression add an entire layer of personalization for the user profile and experience.
#3 Getting Up Close and Personal (AR/VR)
What sports fan doesn’t relish the notion of watching their favorite athletes in action up close? For many, access to pricey front-row seats (or generous friends) is the only way. For VR early-adopters, though, there’s no such requirement. For example, the NBA made its 2018-19 season the first to offer every game equipped for virtual reality (VR) capability.
The trend is likely to continue.
The evolution of VR has made a trip to the ballpark – or even courtside seats – possible for every viewer. From providing viewers at home with every conceivable angle on the action to VR-enhanced stadium experiences that let users experience live sports from the athlete’s perspective, VR will have massive implications for the way we consume sports services.
Meanwhile, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality’s slightly less avant-garde cousin, is already well-established in the world of sports. Today, leading sports apps use AR overlays on a mobile device to surface relevant, second-by-second metadata to viewers, such as past and present stats or player-vs-player matchups. Some trendsetting services have also incorporated AR concepts into “smart venues,” enhancing the viewing experience for in-person audiences.
To conclude, here’s a recap of the top three areas where the digital sports services of the future will set themselves apart.
- Data-Driven UX: tapping into a wealth of user behaviour data to drive a simple, repeatable and enjoyable fan experience
- Voice-Enabled Controls: linking with voice-enabled interfaces to create a powerful experience that keeps up with the moment-by-moment excitement of the match
- Embracing AR/VR: taking advantage of emerging technology to bring the fans closer to the game, whether at home or in the stadium
Ready to take your digital sports experience into the future? Reach out to Accedoto get the user experience conversation moving today.