Its all about mobiSport

Updated: May 5 2014, 15:17pm hrs
If we look back at the way smart phones have impacted our lives, changing our entertainment and content consumption, it is nothing short of incredible. A recent report by KantarSport- a global sport and entertainment research specialists, indicate that a significant proportion of audiences globally are consuming more entertainment content, particularly sports-oriented on the go.

The report further states that, an average Indian sports enthusiast spends almost an entire day per week, consuming sports media on his smartphone- making it the second screen!

The rise of the second screen has therefore given a whole new meaning to sports viewing, adding on elements of interactivity, personal and immediate response.

Mobile phones today not only enable productivity but over a period of time, have emerged as assistive technologies that help build healthy lifestyles. Case in point would be the rise of health and fitness apps. Sports and fitness apps like Endomondo, Runtastic, etc., which act as a personal fitness trainer, have become an integral part of our daily lives allowing us to track everything from our running distances, recording strength trainings sessions to monitoring heart rates.

Moreover integration of these apps with other social channels acts as motivators to indulge in sports often. Its quite interesting to see how a simple like or comment on your sports activity these fitness apps can inspire people to measure quantified self consistently. Smartphones allow fans to access their favourite sports content irrespective of wherever they are.

Sports fans pull their devices to check scores, read sports news, watch sport clips and engage in sport fantasy leagues. While fans are watching live games and events on their TV screens or at the stadium, many of them engage simultaneously in social activities like connecting with peer fans, friends, etc., on the other screen and share their opinion about the action as it unfolds. Furthermore, Social networking apps on smart devices like Facebook, Twitter, BBM Channels, etc. have allowed fans to interact with their sport idols directly, a thing possible in the past, only if you were a VIP.

Conversely, the sports stars have realized the immense power of the social world which empowers them to give a humane touch to their interaction with the fans. Sporting personalities in India who have grasped the power of social channels include Harsha Bhogle, Yuvraj Singh, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sourav Ganguly. These sporting talents have tapped into their fans worlds who want to directly engage with them.

They often post photographs, videos, life experiences which allow their fans to feel more closely connected to them. Conversely, sports stars are using mobile technologies to connect with their fans. Others like Mary Kom, a popular Indian boxer and an Olympic winner, are using alternative technologies to create opportunities for fan engagement and impact the lives at larger with their small contributions. Mary Kom, in fact is slated to launch a mobile app that offers self-defence tips to women in India.

This is not surprising, given the rise of multimedia and smart phones encouraging people to access data with just a click. As the digital media starts driving a significant part of the sports consumption, theres obviously a huge opportunity for the sports ecosystem- including athletes, sportsmen, teams, managers, online publishers, content broadcasters& advertisers, etc., to choose from a range of platforms to engage audiences and sports enthusiasts.

In fact, the 2014 Sochi Olympics have borne a testimony to the incredible power mobile technology brings in. It showcased varied range of innovative companies around the world who have designed and developed technologies that are changing the athletic and business side of sports, and making a case of why the sports industry cant afford to ignore the power of it.

Integration of mobile technology can happen at different levels and can be applied in multiple avatars.

While the smartphone market matures and continues to explore different vertical integrations, let me shed some light on a few things that the sporting industry could leverage to create a Wow sporting experience for sports lovers!

Location-based features on mobile devices helps keep mobile sports fans engaged regardless of where theyre viewing the game from.

Location-based content is fully customizable by the sponsors to provide gateway access to targeted fan segments, right from giving access to fans on a special mobile website within the stadium; giving stadium fans concourse discounts, offering customized packages on next weeks tickets for fans at home, for fans participating with certain sponsors, or for fans currently watching the game from fifty different countriesthe options are endless.

On the other side, paperless tickets are a growing trend at sporting events, witnessed across major sporting events such as the Australian Open, Indian Premier League as well as the recently concluded Sochi Winter Olympics.

Fans no longer need to wait in long queues to witness their sport stars in action. Fans now enjoy more in-depth, interesting and accurate scores and statistics on a real-time basis with the help of multitude of applications available across platforms. Applications are developed not only to provide the latest on the sporting event but also for the specific teams. Recently, Manchester City Football Club launched a first-ever smartphone app designed with away fans firmly in mind.

The application is available inEnglish, Catalan or Spanish and also includes travel advice for fans making their way to the stadium. Mobile technology has also made its way onto the playing field. In the U.K., chair umpires at The Championships at Wimbledon have used it to record points, manage matches, andfeed live scores to digital scoreboards, television broadcasters, and the Wimbledon website.

As wireless technology evolves, the different players in the sports eco system will start tapping into opportunities such as app development, wireless satellite streaming, to enhance the experience of the sports games creating profound this impact on the sports industry. How well can the mobility industry use this opportunity to fuel innovation remains to be seen!

- By Annie Mathew

Director, Business Development & Alliances, BlackBerry India

(The opinions expressed here are author's own.