‘Sportstainment’: How Internet changed the way audience watches sports

March 26, 2019 4:26 PM

The Internet is not only helping people gain information more quickly and communicate more effectively, but it has also touched upon every corner of the society from business, healthcare, government, education and more.

By Raman Raheja

During the last decade, the Internet has evolved drastically in India, paving its way not only to the urbanised Indians but penetrated into the semi-urban and rural segments. Availability of internet and smartphones at cheaper rates created an internet cult in the country, changing the way people utilise it and making it a prominent part of our culture.

The Internet is not only helping people gain information more quickly and communicate more effectively, but it has also touched upon every corner of the society from business, healthcare, government, education and more.

With the advent of technology, one area, which got the boost, is ‘Sports’. The impact of innovation on sports has been huge; the industry has witnessed a growth trajectory due to the advent of ‘Internet Sports’. Processes have become easier and quicker and people can connect with sports at an individual level. Audiences had to surf channels to catch a game but now there is real-time sports information available across a plethora of Internet platforms. “No, you don’t need to wait till the next morning to read about cricket scores in the newspapers.”

Below are five ways which showcase how ‘Sports Internet’ changed the engagement level amongst masses:

Internet radio: With increased smartphone usage, Internet radio has become popular amongst the masses for ‘Sportscasting’. Starting from broadcast sports content such as live chat commentaries, talk shows, special sports programs, expert comments, sports news and updates, audio documentaries, university sports and ‘sportainment’ content, internet radio has been growing grounds in India. While the concept is very popular on a global platform, India is witnessing a growing number of audiences in the last three years.

Social media: With people sharing everything on social media during live matches, help others to be updated about the game of their interest. Social media has created a platform for sports audiences like never before, helping connect masses with their ‘favorite players’. It added the fun element to sports and created connect with all age groups, specially the millennial era. Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have been incredible in creating fan enthusiasm and creating sports community. One example which shows the social media craze is the 2016 IPL match which reach out to 110 million audiences witnessing a jump by 40% in the previous year (As per reports).

Online sports tickets: While buying tickets was a long and tedious process (added with a tinge of luck factor), now sports fans can buy tickets in a matter of minutes. New online platforms have made it feasible to check in and process the entire ticketing schedule. There are new age online companies, which help in selling last moment tickets at cheaper prices. With premiere leagues for different sports in India now, the target audience is increasing day by day. Helping sports fans make last-minute decision with buying tickets has changed the ballgame for sports in India across boards.

Sports OTT: While “Over-the-top” is the chicest term with video entertainment ruling the digital world; sports too has created its avenues as a key player in video OTT. Smartphones and better access to data in rural areas have greatly expanded the market for streaming OTT sports video content. With sports viewership expanding beyond cricket, over 50 million people are watching sports content on video OTT platforms. Due to its growing popularity amongst urban and regional masses, over 30 OTT players are now battling for sports rights in India.

Very soon, the sports segment will also watch the foray of audio OTT into the digital space.

Sports content aggregators: Sports content aggregators too have seen their bit of success in order to make sports events interactive. They are an innovative and engaging tool when it comes to sports technology. From live scores to written commentaries and real-time information, they provide an array of customised data.
Sports coverage is more extensive than ever before. The Internet has been acting like a catalyst by engaging people and letting them share their views, ideas and opinion on sports.

The author is the CEO & founder of SportsFlashes

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