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Technology: transforming event experiences

Technology has been transformative for the average live sports viewer. Not only have we been able to tailor our viewing experiences to be more convenient, with live streaming and video on demand, but as viewers, we’re being given the chance to have increasingly immersive and engaging experiences from the comfort of our own homes.

That’s not to say that culturally we don’t just watch and experience live sporting events in the moment. Sports fans still regularly congregate en masse for large events, able to saturate the senses and experience the atmosphere and almost tribal camaraderie of stadium-sized events. But for those of us who don’t physically have a seat in the midst of the action, the reach and impact of sporting live events viewing has become dramatically more immersive.

Outside of the football and athletic stadiums, away from the bleachers and seats, we’re being brought beyond the sidelines. We’re no longer just voyeurs. As distance viewers, technology is taking us beyond the “fourth wall” of live events. Engrossed within a matrix of information, viewpoints and context, we have been able to become armchair analysts, commentators, and critics. We are participants too.

Sports event broadcasting utilises real-time data feeds to inform and influence our perceptions – quite literally – of the action of it as it unfolds, and plunges us so much further into the action, heightening our emotions and enriching our experiences. This can happen in a number of ways, from simply engaging with others via social channels whilst watching a sporting event, to putting ourselves virtually in the midst of the action.

Sports broadcasters are gradually introducing more virtual technology services, helping to bring events such as the Winter Olympics to life. In fact, broadcasters hope that viewers and fans will eventually graduate from using live streaming services to the virtual reality (VR) viewing.

VR tech, such as a Google Daydream, continues to revolutionise the viewing experience. For instance, the Red Bull Air Race utilises real-time telemetry data straight from the pilot’s cockpit and re-creates the flight in a 360° virtual reality, so viewers can become fully immersed in a race from different angles and viewpoints.

And even as a sports participant, the experience can be become much more social, engaging and collaborative with a helping hand from technology. The Wings for Life World Run, heading into its fifth edition in May of this year, is using its App to increase its reach, encouraging more people to become part of its ‘global movement’. Participants all around the world begin the race at exactly the same time, and whether taking part in an event or using the App, their run data is logged and their results appear on a global list. All competitors pitch themselves against a global field of participants and a moving finish line that chases them, whilst being brought together with people we never knew existed for a greater, life-changing cause – to run for those who can’t.


Image © Red Bull Air Race