Sports + Technology = Greater Participation, Performance, Protection

How to engage more fans in live sporting events, enhance athlete performance and ensure players are protected

Jim Poole

Professional sports has always meant big money for the team owners, players, bookies and a few lucky gamblers, but now it seems that sports technology is where the real money is. According to new research from Marketsandmarkets, by 2024, the global sports technology market is projected to reach $31.1 billion.[i] This growing investment in smart stadiums, esports, sports analytics, high-tech sports equipment and clothing has created a lucrative sport technology market that promises greater fan participation, athlete performance, player protection, and ultimately, revenue growth.

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$31.1 B

By 2024, the global sports technology market is projected to reach $31.1 billion.

The Olympics are showing the way to be “smarter”

As the Olympic Games approach this summer, Tokyo is promoting the event as “The Olympics of the Future.” To kick things off, there will be a multi-color, man-made meteor shower via microsatellite during the opening ceremony. And as global leaders in robotics technology, Japanese-produced robots will provide participants and visitors with directions, transportation via autonomous taxis and real-time language translations. There will be so many droids that the Olympic organizers are building a Robot Olympic Village next to the human Olympic Village in Tokyo’s Odaiba neighborhood.

Japan has even enhanced its bullet trains to surpass the world’s land speed record for rail at 374 miles per hour, just in time for the 2020 games. For those who cannot travel to Tokyo, the Japanese state TV network, NHK, is planning to broadcast the event via 8K ultra-high definition (HD) technology, which supports 16-times the number of pixels (7,680 x 4,320) of most of today’s HD TVs. In addition, Japan’s largest mobile provider, DoCoMo, has partnered with Nokia to install high speed 5G wireless networks for the games’ mobile communications. Sustainable technology will also be at the forefront of the summer Olympic Games with hydrogen-powered villages, fuel-celled powered buses and cars, and algae-fueled airplanes.[ii]

Upping fan participation to a new level

The current state of sports technology, as analyzed in a survey by Scrum Ventures, shows fan engagement technologies, such as live video streaming, esports, media distribution and content platforms, will be making the biggest impact on the sports industry in the next year. [iii]

Source: Scrum Venturesiii

Sports technology advancements around engagement are targeted at enhancing the fan experience. These include live video streaming, artificial/virtual reality (AR/VR), and blockchain and social engagement for sports gambling and fantasy gaming. But it is in sports broadcasting where much of the innovation is taking place, bringing the action closer to the spectator with 5G networks seamlessly streaming video of sporting events and content and digital media (CDM) on-demand to any mobile device. For example, Equinix customer DAZN is changing the live video streaming game in terms of the way people consume sports with more regional and personal customization, flexibility and accessibility, at a lower cost to the consumer.

DAZN partnered with Equinix to leverage its more than 200 Equinix International Business Exchange(IBX®) data centers and interconnection solutions around the world. So, when it decides to launch in a specific market, DAZN knows that the infrastructure is already there for them to hit the ground running. And because DAZN is processing raw, live and playback video feeds in real-time for its viewers, then proximity between sporting venues and its production infrastructure is vital to achieve the lowest possible latency.

DAZN also came to Equinix for data center resiliency, given its global average uptime of 99.9999%. The company needed scalable, on-demand access to multiple network carriers for uninterrupted viewing, just in case a live stream link goes down during the middle of a match. In addition, fast, high-bandwidth, low-latency private interconnection to multiple cloud services on Platform Equinix® worldwide via Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™) helped DAZN to more reliably and efficiently increase capacity during important matches and turn it down when there’s a drop-off in demand.[iv] Today, DAZN is in Equinix IBX data centers in London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York and Silicon Valley, and continues to expand its direct and secure, high-performance interconnection with stadiums, business partners, network, content delivery and cloud providers, and of course, their growing number of viewers worldwide.

Said Dom Wedgwood, SVP Broadcast and Technology, DAZN, “To support DAZN’s initial launch and future expansion we needed a local presence in global markets. Equinix’s interconnection platform provides the capability to deploy infrastructure that gives us both high performance and resiliency. In addition, we can directly connect to our network and cloud providers in these geographies, providing us with the flexibility to support on-demand production requirements in multiple locations.”

Equinix’s interconnection platform provides the capability to deploy infrastructure that gives us both high performance and resiliency.
Dom Wedgwood, SVP Broadcast and Technology, DAZN
77.6%

% of respondents think that fan engagement technologies will have the biggest impact on the sports.

Enhancing athlete performance
Following media/content-related platforms and esports, measurement platforms for monitoring and analyzing athlete performance using data, analytics and biometrics ranks as the third most interesting sport technology sector for investors.iii Tracking athletic performance requires putting sensors on everything from the athlete (human or animal) to the equipment they wear and the balls, pucks or whatever they play with. This requires fast internet of things (IoT) networks to collect the data and real-time analytics to generate insights for decision making, such as deciding whether a player should be drafted or determining if a touchdown is fair.

Source: Scrum Ventures iii

  

Making sports safer

Leading up to this year’s Superbowl, the National Football League (NFL) released an unprecedented advertisement promoting their support for technology advancements that will result in safer helmets, and hopefully, less player head injuries. The NFL recently partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to use data and analytics in the co-development of the “Digital Athlete,” a platform that aims to improve player safety, treatment, and ultimately predict and prevent injury. By leveraging AWS’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) services, the NFL and AWS will develop new tools to generate deeper data-driven insights into player injuries, such as the impact of various factors such as game rules, equipment, and rehabilitation and recovery strategies. Ultimately, this collaboration aims to build the capability to predict the risk of player injuries before they even happen.[v]

Learn more about how Platform Equinix can increase your competitive edge when developing and delivering sports streaming video and CDM to today’s fans.

 

[i] Marketsandmarkets, “Sports Technology Market Worth $31.1 Billion by 2024.”

[ii] Futurism, “Tokyo 2020: The Olympics of the Future.”

[iii] Scrum Ventures, “Industry Insights: The Current State of Sports Technology,” August 20, 2019.

[iv] Forbes, “Field Of Streams: How Big Data, Cloud And Connectivity Fuels DAZN’s Global Expansion,” August 8, 2018.

[v] Amazon, “National Football League and Amazon Web Services Team Up to Transform Player Health and Safety Using Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence,” December 5, 2019.

Jim Poole
Jim Poole Vice President, Business Development at Equinix