The days where professional athletes only play in the biggest stadiums or the most jam-packed arenas are gone. Thanks to smartphones and social media, professional and amateur athletes alike across the world are taking over large public spaces doing everything from trick shots to shooting free throws, and shooting remarkable footage of their adventures to share with their fans. Viewers still want to consume sports but just in a new way, or through a new format. Some of the biggest teams, sporting events and product lines have harnessed the power of digital innovation to create more engaging and exciting content for millennial fans.
Here are examples of how sports has been re-imagined with a dash of digital to attract millennial viewers:
Baseball: Major League Baseball has made some tremendous waves in digital. Not only has the MLB lifted the ban on the use of electronics on the field, but it now allows fans to live stream games on Periscope. Furthermore, the League partnered with Apple to offer Major League teams iPad Pros which enables them to easily chart player stats and watch videos of previous game plays.
Basketball: To continue to innovate in basketball, Wilson debuted itsWilson X Connected Basketball to the market. This smart sensor basketball and its corresponding app help track the shots that a player makes versus those that are missed. This new interactive software adds a new dynamic aspect to the game and incorporates the element of technology that tech-savvy millennials crave.
College Football: Tossing the pigskin around has received a digital update as well. The Clemson football team threw down the cheese when Clemson coach Dabo Swinney challenged that if the Tigers were at the top of the polls at the end of the season, he would throw a giant pizza party for fans. When Clemson finished its season undefeated, Swinney, thanks to a sponsorship with Papa John's, gave over 20,000 fans a coupon for one free slice of pizza at the concession stands inside the stadium, which amounted to over 2,500 pizzas.
The Olympics: Don’t forget about the biggest global sporting event that occurs every four years. Whistle Sports breathed new life into an old game village and transformed to fit with the digital age through its Verizon go90 show, Closed Course. Filmed in the ruins from the 1984 contest held in Sarajevo, this series transcended the physical location and the athletes doing the stunts to create a delicate composition that mixes new with old.
From a Snapchat of thousands of pizzas, to skateboarding in the remains of the dilapidated world stadium, traditional sports situations have been recreated to live in the digital world. This is just the beginning, as any athlete has the power to create the next unexpected sports sensation. With 90% of 18-29 year olds using social media regularly,according to Pew Research Center, there’s a large pool of potential creators and an even larger audience to share content with. Satisfying the insatiable millennial appetite for digital sports content calls for fresh, creative ideas that we can expect to see much more of in the years to come.