Commentary

Hyper-Telling Of Sports: The Next Frontier For Immersive Experiences

Social storytelling has been a buzzword in the digital landscape for some time now. The rise of social has enabled publishers and brands to deliver authentic stories at the speed that social necessitates. But why "tell" stories when, through collaboration, we can actually enable users to participate in real, engaging content that puts them smack in the middle of the story itself?

Sports is unlike any other industry, where the real experience -- first entering the stadium, the roar of the crowd, feeling the contagious excitement -- cannot be told, it must be lived to truly appreciate the magic.  Luckily, due to advances in technology with video and virtual reality, we can provide those experiences for fans in ways that just "telling" cannot compete with.

The folks at Google Zoo call this hypertelling and describe it as the natural evolution of storytelling, which gives users a more immersive experience that is less about communicating the news and more about bringing users into a real environment. It's the transgression from storyteller to storydoer, giving users the control to customize their individual experience.

Citizen journalism has helped move this along by giving fans a voice to share their passion and excitement for the game, while at the same time, helping to build communities of like-minded individuals. Now, with advances in video technology, anyone can create semi-professional video content with just a smartphone that increases alignment with the live sports fan culture. These visceral experiences help drive engagement, and have become what millennial users now demand in the content they consume.

For example, the millennial demographic expects content when they want it, in the manner they want it. Scores, highlights and player news have now become a total commodity and a redundant platform that is available across a number of channels.  The natural evolution of the box score, the game recap and even the look-ahead is the seeing, hearing and even living through someone else’s fan journey. This real action is the only way to give live sports the justice it so deserves.

As publishers in the digital sports world, we have a responsibility to enrich the fan experience and provide authenticity that cannot be achieved elsewhere. When done right, this will attract an engaged, repeat user base that keeps coming back -- and more importantly, encourages users to share their own experiences, creating the much-needed two-way dialogue sports fans thrive on.

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