As part of this year’s SXSports agenda, a team of heavy hitters talked about what watching sports will look like in the future.
In the session, the topic of the smart TV was raised. Will this or won’t this be the key to the way sports are consumed going forward? Mark Kramer, Head of Digital Technology for Pac-12 Networks, argued one of two possibilities will happen here. The first, is that smart TVs die off in favor of “dumb TV.” The TV becomes just a monitor and your phone is your cable box, allowing you to put whatever you want on your TV. A true remote control.
The other possibility Kramer outlined was that TVs start to become bundled with providers much like they are with phones today. This scenario would allow TV technology to move much more rapidly, with consumers replacing their TVs every two years.
Another key topic for the future was around data and personalization. The purpose here–and to some extent, this is already happening–is to better understand fans. “It’s not to be creepy but to make the experience better,” Kramer said.
Understanding what fans are interested in and how they want to watch the game opens up interesting possibilities. Having the ability to change camera angles on the fly is one such possibility, according to William Mao, Head of College Sports Partnerships for YouTube. This could involve anything from moving to a first person perspective or getting audio from a coach, player or ref who’s mic’ed up.
For fellow panelist Spencer Hall, Editorial Director for Vox Media/SB Nation, he’d like to have the ability to switch to other broadcasts on the fly. That might mean going between hometown broadcasts to get their view or tuning into international feeds. That international feed angle is where “the confetti” is. You don’t need to understand the language to get the sense of excitement during a big moment. These examples could take fans to new places, but of course current realities around media rights prevent such things from coming to life.
Whatever the creative idea, the message is clear. In the words of Kramer, “The more choices we can give fans, the more they’re going to want to watch…and the more they’re going to buy a ticket and come to a game.”