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5 Digital Sports Trends 2019

5 Digital Sports Trends To Watch in 2019

InCrowd’s Dan Lipman takes a look at the top five digital trends and discusses their impact on the sports landscape in 2019 and the future.

1 — Virtual Reality (VR): Is it now or never?
Although forecasters predict that the VR industry will grow by 700% in the next five years, increasing to a whopping £169 billion, VR remains the most polarising topic in the sports and tech industry right now. Major brands, right holders and players are throwing their weight behind it. Prime examples include Ceek’s partnership with Dani Carvahal which will show behind the scenes access to his life at Real Madrid, European Tour allowing fans to take VR tours of famous courses and European Championship Athletics recently launching their own VR app. Perhaps 2019 will be the year that the VR debate can truly be decided.

2 — OTT: The opportunity with owned audiences has never been greater
OTT seems to be the topic on everyone’s lips right now. The recent Premier League and EFL broadcast negotiations have been fascinating, in particular the impact of the increasing capability of rights holders to deliver higher quality OTT to their growing audiences. With a recent Facebook study showing that 45% of live audiences would pay to see a favourite athlete, team, or performer on an online stream we’re certain to see more innovation in this area. Eleven Sports new “room” functionality, which allows stream viewers to invite up to four other people to watch a specific live event, is a great example of this innovation. While in the room, users can see, hear and message each other during the live broadcast of the game.

3 — Betting: US online betting landscape takes shape
At the time of writing, eight states now have full‐​scale legalised sports betting, up from two since the New Jersey bill was passed 5 months ago; another 23 states are not far behind. Since then it’s been hard to keep up with the news, from organisations across sports data, technology, casinos and rights holders getting on board. In the last week alone, The NBA announced its first betting data partnership with Sportradar and Genius Sports & Major League Baseball teamed up with MGM Resorts International to manage their sportsbook. With these sporting superpowers shifting into high gear, 2019 is going to be an enthralling year for the sports betting industry in the United States.

4 — E‐​sports: The worlds of e‐​sports and traditional sport will become ever more intertwined.
With more fans tuning in to the League of Legends tournaments than the Super Bowl Final and numbers closing in quickly on the scale of the Champions League Final, it’s no wonder sports bodies are moving quickly to get a piece of the e‐​sports action. Whilst it’s now increasingly common for most sports clubs to have their own dedicated e‐​sports team, the trend on the rise for 2019 is the in‐​game partnerships that are starting to emerge. The NFL are one of the rights holders leading the pack, with their virtual shirts and shops in partnership with Epic Games’ Fortnite; NFL team “outfits” are now available in the Battle Royale Item Shop for fans to purchase – very cool! Keep an eye out for more of your favourite sports teams appearing in the virtual universes.

5 — Cryptocurrency: New revenue streams emerging
It’s no surprise that Crypto brands have very quickly seen the attractiveness of partnerships within the sports industry. And it’s an exciting time for audience owners in sports with a new revenue stream presenting itself here; not a common occurrence. We’ve seen big rights holder partnerships announced over the last 18 months such as Arsenal and Cashbet and many with players like Lionel Messi, Sirin Labs, Eden Hazard and Sergio Aguero endorsing All Sports Chain. Some players have launched their own crypto‐​brands like Ronaldinho with Ronaldinho Soccer Coin and James Rodriguez and his JR10 token. In 2019, it will be worth watching how these partnerships start their activations; the Ronaldinho Soccer Coin will give fans access to so‐​called “digital” stadiums, real‐​world grounds with the technology to record and analyse player performance. According to WSC, Ronaldinho Digital Stadiums will be developed in 300 locations around the world, with construction plans already “confirmed” for over 10 locations.

So what can you do to keep up with the fast‐​paced change of the digital sports landscape? Give us a call, or drop us an email to find out more!

InCrowd & The RFL celebrate a momentous first year for Our League

  • 84,000 members, 32 live match streams and over 13,000 prizes won to date.
  • Successful integration of ticketing, rewards, live streaming, predictor games and polls.
  • Live broadcast integration with Sky Sports for Man Of The Match voting.
  • Community‐​wide match centre and player stats dashboards.
  • Big prize winners of signed merchandise, finals tickets and trips to Australia.

Just over a year ago, The Rugby Football League (RFL) launched their membership platform Our League in partnership with InCrowd. The RFL had approached InCrowd to realise their ambitions to build a world leading membership platform for spectators, viewers and participants of rugby league.

Plans for a membership website and mobile app included exclusive content, member benefits, participation features, a ticketing integration, gamification and polls to help improve the fan experience and drive return on investment for The RFL. All parties were full of expectation, but no one could have imagined the success delivered by Our League. In a single year, some of Our League’s achievements include:

  • 32 live match streams.
  • An all‐​inclusive live match centre covering Betfred Super League to community leagues as well as a community player dashboard, sponsored by Dacia, showing statistics for the majority of rugby league players.
  • The introduction of a seamlessly linked ticketing and rewards scheme, along with in‐​stadia discounts.
  • Live broadcast integration with Sky Sports for Man of the Match voting via Our League platforms.
  • The launch of a round‐​by‐​round predictor game with a £20,000 grand prize.
  • Simultaneous launches of video polls that include the “Try or No Try” poll sponsored by Patient Claim Line and the “Flair Play of The Month”.

The success of these fan experience initiatives by InCrowd and The RFL has been driven by the eager participation of an enviably diverse rugby league fan base, devoted to a sport that delivers competitiveness, entertainment, passion and pride with down to earth, approachable players and coaching staff. In its first year, the Our League membership platform has welcomed 84,000 members, 65,000 of which have downloaded the Our League app which has achieved an 80% active app user rate. The regular Man of The Match vote and other polls boast over 300,000 engagements throughout the Betfred Super League season, with the Betfred Man of the Match polls over a 10 minute period averaging 3,500 votes, and other polls returning an average of 2,200 votes.

Active participation is also driven by the exceptional prizes on offer to Our League members playing the round‐​by‐​round predictor. Just this year, we have seen over 13,000 fans win prizes including signed England shirts and rugby balls, hospitality tickets to the 2018 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final and Betfred Super League Grand Final and tickets to see the England vs New Zealand internationals. Four predictor players came within four correct predictions of the £20,000 grand prize. Other Our League big prize winners included:

  • 10 winners of “super fan passes” — two tickets to all major rugby league events throughout the season.
  • Two Betfred Super League 2019 season ticket winners for the club of their choice.
  • The 50,000th Our League member and lifelong St Helens fan Derek Hewitt won two VIP tickets to the 2018 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.
  • Predictor player Neil Cunliffe won an all‐​inclusive trip to Brisbane, Australia for two to watch England play in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Final.

The success of Our League has more than surpassed our expectations. Our active membership numbers are constantly increasing and we are smashing record after record in terms of users and participation. The team at InCrowd have really taken the time to understand our sport and our fans and continue to provide an exceptional service. We are excited about what we will achieve together in the 2019 season, delivering an even better experience for our unique and passionate fans”, Nichola Spencer, Membership Manager at the RFL

Darren Parsons, Marketing Account Manager at InCrowd stated that “it has been a pleasure working with The RFL in this inaugural Our League season, building the foundations of their membership platform for fans to enjoy for years to come. We have immense pride in what we have achieved with The RFL in just one year and we are looking forward to continuing this successful partnership in 2019.”

InCrowd and the RFL take fan engagement to the next level with interactive video polls

InCrowd’s introduction of video polls, powered by FanScore, has driven engagement levels up for the Rugby Football League’s successful membership platform, OurLeague, enabling the RFL to further develop direct relationships and continue to create unique experiences, for every fan.

Polls have been a popular part of the OurLeague platform since March 2018, with the effective and widely participated Man Of The Match vote now broadcast, updated and announced live for various fixtures throughout the season. This new introduction of video polls takes the fan experience to the next level, giving fans the power to make personal choices based on real life game situations and referee decisions. A strategic system of app notifications, social updates and email communications ensure no fan misses the opportunity to cast their vote and have their say.

Perhaps most importantly, fans participating in the video polls are encouraged to do so behind an official FanScoreID from InCrowd, as opposed to a social login to verify and log their selections. Social may drive higher numbers but these are all anonymous to the rights holder. With this FanScore authentication, the RFL are able to learn more about their fans and can therefore serve them with relevant, personal content and activations based on past engagements.

The live Man of The Match poll has generated incredible engagement numbers and we’re really pleased to be able to add yet another dimension to the fan experience for OurLeague members, whilst continuing to learn more about rugby league fans. The development of the video polls is an exciting prospect for us; we’re looking forward to working on new ideas with the InCrowd team.” – Nichola Spencer, Membership Manager, Rugby Football League.

The Try or No Try video poll went live in August, with Lewis Tierney’s 2016 try against Warrington during the Super 8s as the first video poll to take place. The poll received 1,438 votes over six days with a split decision of 51% Try to 49% No Try, giving a perfect edge‐​of‐​your‐​seat start to the video poll’s integration. The poll itself is a collaboration between the RFL and Patient Claim Line, who already sponsor the big screen video decisions in live Sky Sports games. The poll also ties in brilliantly with their tagline “know for sure” and their key message of “checking all the evidence before making a crucial decision”, making this video poll not only an exciting interactive feature for fans, but an effective and seamless activation for the RFL’s partner.

The Try or No Try video poll is a perfect activation opportunity for us; the nature of the poll compliments our brand messaging and its really exciting to see such a close call on the first poll plus really encouraging participation numbers from the get‐​go.” — Alex Kenny, Marketing Director, Patient Claim Line

InCrowd are excited about the successful introduction and future of video polls as a key feature of the fan experience, for the RFL audience and across the sports industry.

Visit the Our League website here

Download the iOS app

Download the Android app

 

Leeds United FC focus on fan engagement with their official app built by InCrowd

Leeds United FC are continuing their focus on fan engagement with the ongoing success of their official LUTV mobile app in partnership with InCrowd, available to download on the Apple Store and the Google Play Store.

LUFC fans have access to a new two‐​way channel between themselves and and the club. The Official LUTV mobile app enables fans to engage with a host of different features no matter where they are.

Fan features include:

  • Full LUTV including highlights, interviews, features and more. Subscriptions are available to be purchased here.
  • Once logged in, UK subscribers will be able to access live audio commentary, while international users can watch the full match.
  • All the latest news & breaking news supported by the InCrowd push notification system.
  • A full 2017/​18 campaign fixtures & results list.
  • Live league tables.
  • Official player & club Twitter account feeds .
  • Integrates official club social media accounts.
  • Access to ticket purchasing and merchandise.

From a media perspective, providing content to our fans was one of our biggest challenges. However, this has been a smooth process as a result of the perfect cooperation between Leeds United FC and InCrowd.” Emanuele Montoneri, Head of Media at Leeds United FC.

What does this mean for the club?

The LUTV app currently holds a 4.5/5 rating across both the Apple and Google Play app stores. Furthermore, the app has over 170 five‐​star reviews. From the point of view of the club, Leeds United will now be able to:

  • Segment, target and send personalised messages to their fans using the powerful InCrowd push notification system.
  • Collect, grow and utilise rich behavioural and location based fan data.
  • Market new sponsorship inventory to existing and future commercial partners.
  • Showcase official club content on a much improved digital platform to fans around the world.

We are extremely proud to be in partnership with one of the most prestigious football clubs in the UK. This new venture with LUFC means InCrowd now work with over 20 rights holders across four sports.’ Aidan Cooney, CEO of InCrowd.

Please check InCrowd’s and Leeds United’s Twitter feeds twitter.com/InCrowd_Sports and twitter.com/lufc for news of further updates to the official Leeds United app or get in touch via Enquiries@incrowdsports.com

About InCrowd

InCrowd provide a fan engagement & sponsorship activation platform. Our understanding of the avid and emotional mindset of a fan is combined with in‐​depth data analysis and ground‐​breaking digital technology to offer rights holders and brands a unique opportunity to reach out to sports fans in the moments that really matter. Many of the world‘s top rights holders & brands use InCrowd’s fan marketing platform to collect more fan data, sell more tickets and increase sponsorship revenue. We also help sponsors connect with new customers and convert fan interaction into revenue & advocacy. Find out more — www.incrowdsports.com

 

InCrowd win the judges vote at Sports TechPitch 4.5

We are very proud to announce that InCrowd have won the judges vote at Sports TechPitch 4.5.

Sports TechPitch 4.5 is a platform to enable startups specifically within the sport‐​tech industry from all across Europe to showcase their business proposition to a relevant wider audience, including VCs, sport industry professionals and experts, journalists, as well as other aspiring and successful sport and tech entrepreneurs.

InCrowd’s Archie Woodhead gave a three minute keynote presentation that focused on our stadium connectivity technology and revenue model to a panel of six judges (details below).

The other entrants…

BibShot — an app that connects participants and spectators through event photography

imin- an aggregator of open physical activity session data mirroring the multi‐​billion dollar travel aggregation model

Kymira — developing the smart clothing of tomorrow for a cleaner, safer, healthier planet, and validating technologies on the sportswear market for medical applications

Matter fit — disruptive fitness equipment that aims to change the way you work out, for the better

Pactster — a social fitness platform aimed at getting more people exercising more of the time, by tackling motivation and adherence

VSportR — realistic virtual spaces for interactive and immersive sports content

Xmetrics — a wearable technology company, combining Italian design with advanced biomechanical sensors and sophisticated algorithms, resulting in the ultimate ingenious activity tracker to improve any swimmer’s performance

The judging panel…

  • Chris Huey - Investment Manager, NEON Adventures
  • Iain McDonald — Senior Associate, Lewis Silkin
  • Dan McLaren — Founder, Digital Sport
  • Dom Moorhouse — Entrepreneur, investor and owner of European Fitness League   
  • Alexandra Willis — Head of Communications, Content and Digital at The All England Lawn Tennis Club (Championships) Limited
  • Nic Couchman — Sports Investment Partners and Chairman of sports business law firm Couchmans LLP

What is TechPitch 4.5?

TechPitch 4.5 is a platform for tech startups and entrepreneurs to show‐​case their business idea to a wider audience, including investors, journalists, potential partners and peers.

It takes the form of an evening pitch competition which brings together tech startups, investors, entrepreneurs, as well as business and technology experts, to see the latest tech business ideas receive productive feedback on their proposition and pitch from a panel of judges with mixed business, technology, marketing, investment and financial expertise. .

TechPitch 4.5 provides an opportunity for potential investors to observe and learn about the latest tech startups, as well as new technology business trends. Some of the startups presenting at TechPitch 4.5 will have profited from the 2Pears pitch‐​training workshops organised with the support from UK Trade & Investment, UKTI.

For entrepreneurs and tech startups, TechPitch 4.5 has proven fertile ground for networking and making useful connections with potential investors, business experts and advisors, journalists, as well as peers, potential partners and users.

Millennials can be Persuaded to Watch More Sport

Gamers aren’t usually linked with the sporting community but nearly as many people go to eSports events (over 12 million) as attend Premier League football matches (just under 14 million). I think there is an opportunity for sport to integrate live gaming competitions that will embrace the Millennial Generation.

The fast growing eSports industry

When I hear the word gaming it conjures up images of teenage boys hunched over a console in a darkened room. That was before I discovered eSports, live gaming events where attendance is growing exponentially. With 67% of gamers wanting to go to more events more often, this growth is set to continue.

This is a brave new world for sport’s administrators but gamers are looking for the same experiences that sports fans have enjoyed for centuries. They want to be part of a community, meet their heroes, enjoy an atmosphere and watch their favourite teams and players. Sound familiar?

Generation Y

Sport’s rights holders need a strategy to engage the millennial (18–34 year old) generation. 69% of this group (more than any other age group) can be persuaded to attend more sports events according to Mintel. In fact as this graph below shows, the older someone gets the less likely they are to change their sport viewing habits.

75% of gamers are in this age group and 54% of these also watch traditional sports. If sports clubs in particular want to position themselves at the centre of a community then they can’t ignore gamers.

consumers_moresport

 

London vs. Manchester

Take two of the largest communities in the UK. I would like to see football teams in each of these cities working together to create a new rivalry.

For example, Arsenal could create its own London based gaming team under the Gunners brand and play against a similarly constructed team from Manchester. The gamers could then play on the eve of an Arsenal vs. Manchester United match, juxtaposing the competitions to increase the reach of both events. Gamers would take an interest in how their team does on the football pitch and traditional United and Gunners fans would take interest in their gaming counterparts.

Benefits for the Teams

eSports is still relatively underdeveloped and the industry would benefit from having big sports brands like Arsenal involved.

For major sports teams, this is an opportunity to expand fanbases, create additional rights and generate new commercial opportunities. Ticketing is the most obvious income stream but there would also be new sponsorships, licensing deals and a whole host of digital rights. As the table below shows, when gamers attend an event, they like to buy more merchandise than the traditional sports fan:

gamer_merch1

Major Event Integration

And why stop there? Perhaps the International Olympic Committee could include gaming as one of its sports? That may well irritate squash’s governing body which has spent over 20 years unsuccessfully campaigning to become part of the world’s biggest sports event. All the same, embracing the gaming community would certainly see an increase in Olympics followers. It would also put eSports on the map in a big way.

Simple Gaming at Existing Events

 

If so many gamers are interested in live sports then at the very least sports events should build interactive products to engage this audience. Generation Y want to be connected and entertained during a match. It is no longer enough to rely on the atmosphere of a football crowd – without developing additional engagement the in stadia experience will fall further behind TV.

This is a group that rights holders can’t ignore, they behave differently to traditional sports fans but are becoming increasingly important. Sport should take this opportunity to broaden its appeal.

If you want to be truly amazed by the world of eSports then watch the first 30 seconds of this video: