Digital Update 01 | Sports

The digital transformation is in full swing. Here’s the first edition of my Digital Update. I will periodically shed light on a sector, subject, or form of technology.  This time, I’ve focused on five developments in the world of digital sports. 

1. Under Armour, Asics, and Adidas are making great strides into the world of technology

Sports brands have been making more than just shoes and clothing for a while now. Additional digital services have become a must. Nike was, by far, the first brand to develop its own coaching app (Nike+), but it seems to have lost its way recently. The upstart, Under Armour has established a dominant position through series of serious acquisitions, including MapMyFitness, Endomondo, and MyFitnessPal, which have given it a total of 160 million users. A headline that reads “We are beating Nike in connected fitness,” is a mark of a confident company. Under Armour is also working hard on new connected hardware, such as headphones, smart shoes, and the platform Healthbox.

Adidas recently bought Runtastic, and Asics brought the popular Runkeeper into its fold. The real question, however, is when Nike is going to buy Strava, the cycling and running platform.

Developments are taking place outside the world of running and fitness as well, as we can see with Adidas’ miCoach platform. With their Smartball, it is possible to analyze and improve your touch on the football pitch.

Adidas Smartball

Adidas Smartball

II. Wearable Technology

In connection to these developments, clothing and technology are merging, as sensors are added to garments. For instance:

III.    Gaming is a Sport

The rise of eSports cannot be stopped. The recent European ‘League of Legends’ championships at Ahoy was packed, as thousands of fans turned up to watch the best gamers on the continent compete in the game, or sport rather, that more 67 million people play worldwide. PWC recently estimated that eSports are a half-billion-dollar industry as of 2016.

Traditional media are also experimenting with games. Fox Sports broadcasts eSports events live, and Yahoo! recently established its own eSports channel (with replays!). The FIFA Interactive World Cup was played in New York to much fanfare.

FIFF Interactive World Cup

FIFF Interactive World Cup

The football club, West Ham United recently signed FIFA player Sean ‘Dragonn’ Allen to a contract, and Schalke 04 bought the eSports team ‘Elements’.

Fantasy Games, in which you select a team and try to choose the best line up, as determined by the performance of real players in real matches, are also worth paying attention to. In the US and Canada alone, more than 56 million people play. The daily variant is especially popular. In short, ‘Pick your Euro 2016 eleven and start earning money right away.’

On an even more futuristic note, we’ll soon see the first Robot Formula One race, in which driverless racing cars will do battle.

Daily fantasy games

Daily fantasy games

IV.   Sports are Games

The opposite also works; technology and ideas from the gaming industry are becoming integrated into traditional sports.

  • A nice example is this gym in New York founded by Asphalt Green, where you are motivated by incentives and stimuli from the world of gaming.
  • Thomas Mayer, a German user-interface design student, created this genius TableTennisTrainer.
  • Peloton’s social platform ensures a unique spin-class experience.
  • For the generation that grew up with FIFA, Balljames makes real-time ‘MRI scans’ of live football games
Interactive gym in New York

Interactive gym in New York


V.     21st-Century Broadcasting for Major Sporting Events

Major shifts are also taking place in the world of media. Social platforms are becoming today’s mainstream broadcasters, as new audiences move away from the linear experience of watching TV.

  • In Spain and England, the Champions League final was broadcasted live on YouTube
  • Twitter recently closed deals with the NFL and the Copa America to publish exclusive video content.
  • Wimbledon has developed a unique collaboration with Snapchat. Beginning on the 27th of June, snaps from Wimbledon spectators will be shown via live channels.
  • Facebook launched Sports Stadium, its own platform to supplement sports matches.
  • With LiveLikeVR, we’ll be watching live games in virtual reality in the near future.
  • Sponsors and brands have established their own newsrooms for Euro 2016.
Facebook Stadium

Facebook Stadium

Note: If you would like more examples, I’ve created an overview of the many trends in sports technology that have arisen over the past few years, from smart swim goggles to intelligent tennis rackets. Please feel free to send me a message if you would like to see my slidedeck.
Note 2: If you’ve spotted any interesting developments that might complement my list, let me know and I’ll update it accordingly.
Note 3: Sources: Digiday, eConsultancy, The Verge, Contemporist, Numrush, Business Insider, Wired, and Bright, among others.