Sports

How We’ll Watch Sports Differently in 5 Years

Anthony Davis demos a Verizon 5G virtual reality headset

There’s nothing like attending a live sporting event at your favorite team’s stadium. But the next best thing is watching it from the comfort of your own home. As sports broadcasting evolves, technology is evolving with it. Here are five ways we’ll watch sports differently in five years.

Real-time stats and analytics 

TV networks offer in-game sports stats and analytics. That’s nothing new. But the speed and level of detail will only improve as technology transforms.

For example, Amazon Web Services’ Statcast AI uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to give fans a unique look into the game as well as analyze player behavior and possible outcomes. Statcast can predict stolen base probability, the effectiveness of an infield shift, and pitch results. 

Virtual reality will put us next to the action

Virtual reality is a developing technology that can place viewers in the middle of the action. As it increases in popularity, the sports world will follow suit. The NBA already offers this experience, allowing League Pass subscribers to virtually sit courtside for select games. After all, the majority of fans can’t afford to shell out thousands of dollars for a courtside seat.

It’s the evolution of home sports viewing. We believe football, baseball, and hockey will all cash in on it eventually. Imagine the profits from giving millions of sports fans the ability to sit right in front of the action.

We’ll be able to choose our broadcasters 

Sports have always appealed to the passionate. Now, with the rise of social media, every fan has a voice. So what’s to stop a couple of enterprising fans from providing live commentary on a favorite team as an alternative to the network analysts? 

Don’t be surprised if this form of “personalized commentary” grows in the coming years. Networks may cash in, offering fans the ability to either watch the network-approved broadcast or a specialized team-centric broadcast put together by fans. ESPN does a version of this for the College Football Playoff, offering home team broadcasters on its networks. 

Drones will grow in prominence for better views of the action

As drone technology improves, they’ll be used more often to cover sporting events. Golf Digest summarized the potential impact drones could have on sports coverage in a 2017 piece: 

Think of them not as action cameras, really, but as athletic cameras. They can film pretty much anywhere: clinging to a sheer cliff face; over open water; behind a dirtbike going 60; even in the middle of fireworks. Drones mimic the way we move — they can even follow you, hands-free –and by doing that they go one step beyond the sports coverage we’re used to: they convey not just the visuals, but the feeling.

As drones become easier to use, they’ll be more common at sporting events. This will lead to better views not just for fans, but for officials who need to review the action.

Flexible TV packages

There was a time when you needed to subscribe to a sport’s expensive TV package, like NFL Sunday Ticket, NBA League Pass, MLB Extra Innings, or NHL Center Ice, to watch an out-of-market team. To die-hard fans, this sounds like heaven, but for fans who only wanted to watch their team, it was a bit much. 

In recent years, however, the NBA has offered more flexible TV packages. Fans can purchase all games, the games of just their team, or even portions of games. The NFL has even gotten in on this, offering NFL Red Zone to fans who only want to watch key moments from Sunday games. Sooner rather than later, all major sports will offer flexible packages.