8 ways how AI will impact fan engagement

8 ways how AI will greatly impact fan engagement

Besides emotion, fan engagement will increasingly be driven by digital consumption and AI will play a major role in this. We discuss 8 powerful ways on how Artificial Intelligence will enrich the life of the future sports fan.

1. AI powered background data will enrich the fan’s viewing experience

The viewing experience of tomorrow’s fan no doubt will change a lot. Just watching an ordinary game from your seat, won’t do the trick for much longer. The future generations want to have a richer all encompassing experience when viewing a sports game. These generations have the ability to consume a lot of information in a short time period. It means, they want to have access to all kind of AI powered live background data on players, statistics etc. It also means that second screens (both in the stadium and at home) will become the new normal! This means stadiums and clubs have to be up to this challenge rather sooner than later.

Also interesting to read: How AI will impact sports in a big way

As a consequnece substantial investments have to be made in case you want to be a major player. A good example is the cooperation between Microsoft and the NBA, in which a direct-to-consumer platform is created that delivers new fan engagement experiences and enhanced streaming capabilities powered by Microsoft Azure and its AI capabilities.

Another good example is the partnership between Formula 1 and AWS, partnered with AWS . Fan experience should be boosted by giving them an insider view into the ultra fast decisions made by racing teams and drivers mid-race. 120 sensors on the car are providing the data that Amazon’s machine learning algorithms will use to provide fans with insights such as real-time race predictions, and car performance. This definitely should add to the fun as the video below shows.

F1 and AWS

2. AI will boost Fantasy sports and in-game betting

The fan of the future will be largely made up by Generations Z and Alpha. Both are into gaming and into technology. Fantasy sports do combine both. It will imply that these fantasy game fans will be major consumers of data and its analysis. AI will be indispensable in this perspective. Making sense out of structured and unstructured data is what it is all about.

The fan of the future wants to receive constant updates on teams, players, stats and basically any other type of information they require in order to outsmart their Fantasy Sports opponents. Think of access to team websites, sports networks, and even niche sports-related blogs. It can be done! IBM’s Watson has already been able to produce an unbeaten US football fantasy team!

Watson and fantasy sports

Sports fans of the future will get access to these increasingly complex statistics on basically everything sports has to offer. This will help them to form the best possible fantasy team. Similarly, real time betting will make use of the same data and analytics. Imagine yourself with a friend in the stadium, placing a bet on the mileage run by a player. You can track him online and will immediately know whether you have won your wager.

Also interesting to read: 10 striking predictions about the future of sports in the coming decade

3. AI powered content distribution will entirely change the fan’s viewing experience

Content and distribution will undergo major changes in the near future. AI has the power to make predictions during a sports event. What to think of the Tour de France’s Le Buzz? It is able to predict the key moments in a race, such as the likelihood of a crash, a split in the peloton or a change in race dynamics.

Or what about Wimbledon? With the help of IBM’s Watson, it is able to show the best AI determined highlights just seconds after a match. AI analyses elements such as player reactions, crowd noises (like for example cheers and even acoustic data such as detecting each strike of the ball). With such data, AI powered highlights packed in just a few minutes (appealing to the new generations) will be the name of the game in content consumption.

Wimbledon and Watson

Also interesting to read: 6 powerful trends in sports media and broadcasting

4. Skills analytics will not only help coaches but also improve fan engagement

It’s already a known phenomenon used by top athletes and teams. It’s the data analyst, who assists coaches in reading the game or in analyzing how players can realize peak performance levels. However, the same data can also be used for fan engagement purposes. Generally fans want to know everything about their favorite teams. Getting access to these AI powered data, will give them a whole extra dimension. It’s a win win as clubs and athletes will be able to monetize these data and will increasingly become data vendors.

5. AI will provide fans with pro-active tailor made interaction

In the future a fan no longer will be just a fan. Instead he will be a specific person with a specific fan profile. AI will recognize who he (or she) is, what fan profile he has, what preferences he has, what he has purchased in the past, which events he has been visiting etc. AI powered chatbots will give him a personal treatment like never before, making him or her a VIP. This personal guide can provide him with great recommendations, which not only will make him feel better, but also will generate revenues for the team or athlete he is a fan of.

Stadiums will be instrumental as they will become major content and data providers in order to deliver the ultimate customer journey inside a stadium and hence satisfy the demands of the fan. In fact stadiums and fan platforms will become ‘data temples’. Equipped with these data tailor made marketing campaigns, games and sales recommendations can be made, which should add to the fan experience.

Also interesting to read: 12 awesome ways to improve fan engagement in the future

6. AI should improve stadium logistics, crowd and security management enhancing the customer journey of the fan

AI will play a major role in the fan’s journey into and out of the stadium. Basically AI will be involved from ordering your ticket to taking your seat in the stadium to being back at home in front of your television. After having ordered your ticket with the help of AI, your AI assisted car will drive itself to the stadium, drop you off at the entrance and find itself a parking spot. You won’t have to queue as AI powered crowd management systems will take care of congestions assisted by facial recognition etc.

Inside the stadium bots and virtual assistants will help and assist you during your stadium visit whilst simultaneously an AI assited control centre with security personnel oversees and monitors your safety so that you do not have to worry about terrorist threats or hooligans.


7. Artificial Intelligence will alter stadiums into deep learning organic creatures

With future stadiums equipped with state-of-the-art technology Artificial Intelligence will kick in and change stadiums into small deep learning cities! This will be improving and optimising the (tailor-made) experience of each fan within the stadium.

Also interesting to read: the top 10 basic features of future stadiums

8. Fan relationship and social media management will improve with the help of AI powered smart chatbots

Communication with the fan will only become more important in the future. Good communication on social media will be essential to create a personal and individual relationship with fans. Smart chatbots using AI technology should stimulate interaction. Users can type or speak with the chatbot, which will answer your question straight away or guide you through the website effectively. The more it is used, the smarter it becomes. In the end it will be like you are talking to a human. Imagine it as an Alexa for your favorite team or athlete.

In conclusion, the future for the fans looks bright. Service and information levels as well as new experiences will take care of increased fun levels and engagement is likely to be improved. Above I have mentioned just a couple of AI powered tools, but there will be many more. If you have any other ideas, please share!

Published by Jan Kees Mons

I am Jan Kees Mons. Just call me JK, that’s easier I guess. I am a Dutchman living in the heart of the city of Amsterdam. Right now I am living on my own. However, not for much longer, as I plan to live together with my lovely girlfriend.