Fast Forward

Television remains the leading medium for sports content for the new age sports fans, however digital mediums like internet and mobile offer a panoply of sports related services that serve their various increased needs, namely:

On demand service: Sports fans want instant gratification of news related to live sporting events or highlights that are accurate and up to the minute. Leading internet sports websites offer sports fans live up to the minute content related to matches and also highlights of the game like top player, key moments, interviews with the stars, photographs etc. So a fan need not depend just on the highlights package from a television channel (which in most cases would be shown just at a particular time of the day) or wait for his morning newspapers to get more details of the match of interest to him. Instead the url of the sports website or the wap portal enables the fan to access the content that he wants either on his desktop or his handheld device respectively. the website for Olympics 2008 had close to 100 million unique users coming in for highlights and reports of various games. Unlike the earlier editions of the event when a fan could just watch a single sport during this event on television, on the website he had the option of flipping through weightlifting, gymnastics or any content section of interest within the Olympics website. Technical applications on mobile phones allow the modern sports fan to track a game through an actual animation rendering of the game or in some cases even access to live streaming content or video highlights.

Plethora of options and flexibility of accessing sports content: Even within a sports category while a large following is for live sports content, the next level content requirement varies from consumer to consumer. Even in live coverage television channels have continuously innovated over the years to ensure that they are able to keep pace with the requirements of the demanding new age sports fans. The modern fans on TV want to watch the key moments from various camera angles, replays of key moments in various motion speeds, quick content capsule updates of relevant players (even as the play is on) etc. Technology advancements like Hawkeye allow game followers to follow the actual trajectory of the cricket ball during a match (when that particular ball needs to be analysed more). SportVision – a feature that was tested during American football in 2008 tracked the extent of grass covered by each player during the course of a match. In the digital medium fans get sms alerts based on key moments of the match, track the game through the wap site – all these on their handheld device. Also on their favourite sports websites sports fans can go back in time and experience the match and its key moments.

On the move services/out of home options: The new age sports fans wishes to be updated on his favourite game even when he is away from home or at his workplace. Sports websites and mobile services of leading media channels offer all these services and more. Cricnfo the world’s leading cricket website has close to 15 million users globally and majority of these users are accessing the website from their work place.

In depth coverage in real time as well as for posterity: The new digital media platforms allow for multiple events in depth coverage. On their favourite websites the modern sports fans can not only follow the game live (various live score content formats like text commentary, audio commentary, video streaming etc.) but also catch up on the key moments (video highlights, expert analysis), in depth statistical analysis as well as photographs (of the key moments) of the match.

Options in multimedia formats: The new age sports fans likes any or all of the options like video, text or audio depending on the content type and his choice of content format. Sports providers and organizers as well leading media platforms have recognized this and have invested substantially in building robust digital media platforms either on their own or in a partnership model. For example NBC which had the US rights to the Olympics games showed close to 3500 hours of the event online and of that around 2200 hrs of them were streamed live.

Providing better experience: Technological innovation at every level – at the production end, distribution end, at the point of content consumption and also at the device end have ensured a vastly improved game viewing experience for the new age sports fans by providing them more details, better picture and enhanced coverage. Smarter handheld devices and IPTV services have ensured that the new age sports fans have almost the stadia within his palm or desktop!!

Networking options with other fans: The new age sports fan even when glued to their televisions are engaging in a wide range of related activities online and on his mobile devices. This could range from instant messaging, emailing, text messaging or talking on the phone about various aspects of the game with his fellow fans.

Help in building bonds with their star players: The basket ball following in china is growing by the day (the following is for some of the star NBA players), similarly Sachin Tendulkar has a global following and this extends even to markets like the US (where cricket is not a major sport on TV). Leading sports websites have dedicated sections of these players for their fans and is a popular platform for fans to engage with their star player.

Help in following their favourite teams irrespective of geographical constraints if mass media coverage is limited of their events: In baseball the proportion of players in major leagues born outside of the US has been nearly 30%. In minor leagues it is close to 50%. In football – Italian and Spanish leagues have a high percentage foreign players. Hence interest and following for these teams and these players extend far beyond their home territories and regions where traditional media would have limited (or sometime none) coverage of those events. In these regions sports websites offer an in depth coverage for the sports fans.

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