Every month, we’re rounding up the best of the digital action in sport. Here’s what made the headlines in February.
The already considerable excitement surrounding wearable technology in sports, with its player tracking and data-creating potential, has heightened this month, with the news that more shoe wearables are to be released, and predictions having been made that, by 2021, the sport and fitness wearable technology industry will be worth $44.2 billion.
GPS specialist Garmin has delved into the world of golf in their wearable advancements, creating three smart golfing devices featuring courses, activity tracking and notifications; declaring that it “gives golfers an advantage on the course, no matter where in the world they play”.
Athlete IQ, an online community for athletes, has produced a report based on a survey 763 amateur-professional athletes on why they purchase particular wearable tech devices. The report found that over 70% of athletes owned between 1-3 wearable devices and that it’s primary use was for analysis and to measure improvements, and that peer recommendations ranked as the highest factor for buying new devices.
Meanwhile, in the medical and sports recovery world (where whereable tech has already been lauded as a vital prevention of injury) sports scientists in the US have developed an algorithm for wearable tech device data to help them analyse athlete’s movements to gain better understanding of injuries, to then better inform treatment plans.
The new lions
In the biggest sporting design news this month, the Premier League revealed its first new branding for a decade, ahead of the 2016/17 season, and with the notable for the absence of its sponsor of 15 years, Barclays.
Utilising numerous fan surveys, the rebrand sees the removal of the old logo in favour of five vivid colours and a simple lion’s head design, which the Premier League has called “a modern take on the lion icon” while staying true to the league’s history and heritage, which will be “flexible in digital and broadcast formats”; highlighting the organisation’s forward-looking focus on digital.
The boldness and simplicity of the new designs will give the Premier League a change to freshen and reposition their identity, with a significant shift away from a more corporate and prestigious image to a more modern and exciting one.
Further to our January update, the focus of football fan engagement remains firmly global with more and more top-flight teams reaching out to their international fan bases.
Examples of this in February have included New York City FC’s launch of a fully Chinese website and social media platform, the first Chinese-language digital platforms in Major League Soccer. Its president pointed to ‘soccer tourism’ as a motivation, pointing out that New York is “a place where one million Chinese tourists travel every year.”
Meanwhile, FC Barcelona and AS Roma have branched out on social, starting up a Turkish Twitter account and a Greek Twitter account respectively; whilst Spain’s La Liga has begun tweeting in English for the first time. Roma’s growing Greek and Cypriot fanbase is believed to be a result of fans following Greek internationals Kostos Manolas and Vasilis Torosidis, whilst the presence of Arda Turan in Barcelona’s midfield has piqued the interest of fans in Turkey.
In the UK, Arsenal has partnered with African betting company SportPesa, with the latter hoping to engage Arsenal fans in Kenya. The company is planning to offer official merchandise and match tickets to Kenyan fans, as well as organising training camps to help “the development of football in the country.”
Other digisport developments:
PGA targets a younger fan base with GoPro: The PGA Tour has partnered with GoPro to follow players on the green and offer footage from a first person perspective, hoping to attract younger fans by creating a viewpoint akin to that of a golfing video game
Olympic Park app: Sports Revolution, in conjunction with Pocket App, has created a ‘Smart Park App’ for the Olympic Park. Users will be able to adjust the content whilst visiting the park to explore the range of activities on offer.
Intel’s sports broadcast advancements: Intel has introduced two new technologies, Curie and freeD, which it plans to debut at this year’s X-Games on ESPN, showing viewers live data about athletes performances.
Draft Kings invade the UK: DraftKings, the US Fantasy Sports juggernaut, has announced partnerships with Arsenal, Liverpool and Watford, after being granted a UK gambling licence allowing them to operate in the UK.
- VR comes to Rugby: Accenture, a leading global digital company partnered with The RBS 6 Nations, has announced plans to create a virtual experience for rugby fans.