SXSW2012: The Sports Fan in 2015

Thanks largely to digital innovation, being a sports fan has never been so emotionally charged, or fun, as it is today.

Fans no longer just watch. They participate, analyze, critique, deconstruct, fantasize and connect with their favorite players and teams in real time. They watch with friends, regardless of where they are physically located, thanks to new mobile and social technologies that make it easier than ever to connect virtually. They share reaction and highlights instantly, despite teams’ and leagues’ persistent attempts to control retransmission rights.

Players are no longer forced to rely on traditional media outlets and press agents to connect with their fans. With new technologies and readily available social media channels, the players themselves have become their own broadcast channels, and fans can easily reach out to them.

The balance of player, team, fans, and media has shifted. The dynamic has become transparent and fluid. Players have more control of their brand, while fans can follow a player’s every move and analyze (sometimes overanalyze) his on-court performances and off-court antics. Meanwhile, new statistical measures like sabermetrics are helping to redefine the value of a player’s impact on a team and, in turn, how he is appreciated by fans (or not).

In this presentation, we’ll explore specific examples of how sports fandom has changed and share a vision of where it’s headed in the future thanks to MOBILE and SOCIAL innovations.

Then vs Now

My experience as a sports fan will be different than my kids


  • We would hang their posters on our wall
  • Game of the week
  • Get our highlights from news
  • Exposure to international game was minimal (every 4 years)
  • Buy tickets from scalpers
  • Show up early to grab autographs
  • Wait in line to buy food from a vendor
  • Team management rarely connected with fans
  • Referees took abuse from players and fans and accepted it
  • Players fought on the court
  • Players connected with fans during sideline interviews

Steve Diekmann (Who?)

  • Set D3 Scoring record - 37.3 PPG
  • Anonymity


  • We can talk directly with our athletes
  • Watch whatever game you want
  • Mobile, apps
  • International stars are well known
  • Buy tickets safely and securely (StubHub)
  • Athletes want to meet us (kevin durant, twitter)
  • RFID chips in jerseys of season ticket holders (Tampa Bay Lightning)
  • Teams dedicate entire staff to coordinate social media with fans
  • Now referees have an outlet to defend calls
  • Players fight on twitter (Kendrick Perkins vs Lebron)
  • Today players tweet (from the sidelines - NFL Pro Bowl)

Jacob Tucker

  • 5’10” Senior out of D3 College, 50” Vertical
  • Got into D1 Slam Dunk Contest, YouTube Video to rally fans around him and get him into the tournament
  • Now playing for the Harlem Globetrotters

How brands are connecting with fans

  • Brands are shifting how they connect with their customers
  • Mastercard
  • Priceless New York Campaign
  • Nike Basketball Team “Black Mamba”
  • Kobe related tweets triggered a change in the site
  • Offered exclusive content for 6 hours
  • Mamba Moments
  • Twitter Tracker
  • 2Mil Fans

Where is this all heading?

  • The insanity around sports is spreading and able to spread worldwide. Malaysia Video. Man U v Liverpool
  • Soccer hooligans in Malaysia
  • Social makes it easy to be connected at the game
  • Check-ins
  • Ticketmaster building on Facebook to allow you to buy tickets next to friends
  • Augmented Reality
  • Twitter most transformative part of the NFL viewing experience, Bill Simmons
  • See replays right away, not waiting for the broadcast
  • Micro-gaming within the game
  • Betting on individual at-bats, free throws, etc.
  • Fans control view with online streaming
  • TNT Overtime
  • NBC NFL Online
  • Democratization of fandom
  • Fans have more power than ever
  • Will the fans be able to impact a coach or GMs decision?
  • Fans can have their voices heard
  • Open APIs lead to new innovations in the Sports Fan experience
  • ESPN developer platform
  • CBS Sports
  • Boston Globe - Boston Baseball Hack Day
  • Sports packages will change (MLB, NBA TV)
  • More room for more channels
  • Available data will continue to grow and evolve the game viewing experience.
  • Heat maps of where a player spends their time
  • Sensors in shoes, shirts, etc. - Heart rate

A day in the Life

  • Jed Berger
  • June 5, 2015
  • GroupConnector - allows people to shift seats to be with friends. “Would you like to sit with Jed tonight?”
  • - coach has to follow along with the crowd sourced response
  • Loads ticket in ticketmaster app, NFC based, swiped at turnstile
  • Seamlessly checks in with ticket swipe
  • Message from the concession stand, “Would you like your usual order?”
  • BetOnline (microbetting app) - Will Stoudamire make his free throws?
  • Rotoworld
  • - real time stats, biometrics, etc - redefined box score
  • Friend can take control of phone camera
  • Knicks win - Postgame interviews will be redefined. Fans now can conduct the 2nd half of the interview. Probably some sort of subscription will be required for this. Google+ Hangout.

In the future

  • Fan Grouping Apps
  • In-arena personalization
  • Crowdsourced coaching
  • Frictionless sharing via NDF
  • Explosion of second screen apps
  • Biometric enhanced box scores
  • Remote fandom via telepresence
  • Redefinition of fan access

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  • G. Brad Hopkins
  • About Me: I bought my first computer - an Apple Performa 6320 - when I was in college and have been building websites ever since. These days I spend most of my time writing code and helping to bring interesting projects to life.
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