5 min readUpdated Jun 19, 2024

The future of realtime Fan Engagement in sports and media [with video]

The future of realtime Fan Engagement in sports and media [with video]

As a veteran of the sports media industry with 35 years of experience at Deltatre, Carlo De Marchis recently delivered a thought-provoking keynote at our Fan Engagement Summit exploring the current state of fan engagement, the challenges faced by organizations, and the potential scenarios for the future of realtime fan engagement in sports and media.

In the following video and post, Carlo shares what he presented at the Ably Summit with a re-recorded version of his presentation, and summary of key points.

Keynote on the future of realtime Fan Engagement in sports and media

Key takeaways from the keynote

  • The fan engagement ecosystem is increasingly complex and multidimensional, requiring organizations to be agile and adaptable in their strategies to meet the evolving needs of the "fluid fan."
  • Organizations must find the right balance between leveraging social media platforms and developing their own platforms, while also ensuring they can deliver innovative fan experiences at scale.
  • The future of fan engagement lies in personalized, immersive experiences powered by AI and real-time data, but organizations must be prepared to handle the technical challenges that come with this evolution.

Written summary of my keynote on the future of realtime Fan Engagement in sports and media

For those who don’t enjoy watching videos, here are the key points that I cover:

The Evolving Ecosystem of Fan Engagement:

I emphasized that the fan engagement ecosystem has become increasingly complex and multidimensional. Sports organizations must now navigate a landscape that includes their own platforms, media-owned and operated platforms, sport-specific apps, social media, and big tech companies. This complexity presents both challenges and opportunities for organizations seeking to engage with their fans in real-time.

I highlighted the importance of understanding the "fluid fan" concept, where fans are no longer confined to a single team or sport, but instead engage with multiple aspects of their lives. This shift requires organizations to be agile and adaptable in their fan engagement strategies, constantly learning and deploying new approaches to meet the evolving needs and expectations of their fans.

Balancing Social Media and Owned Platforms:

One of the key dilemmas faced by sports organizations is how to allocate resources and efforts between social media and their own platforms. While social media offers unparalleled reach and the opportunity to learn from the big players, organizations also need to bring fans to their own platforms to collect data and create personalized experiences. I stressed the importance of understanding what to do, where, and when, to create an effective multi-layered fan engagement funnel.

I also noted that organizations should embrace new trends and make them their own, rather than simply copying what others are doing. By tailoring these trends to their unique fan base, organizations can create engaging experiences that resonate with their audience.

The Evolution of Fan Engagement:

I traced the evolution of fan engagement from linear consumption to augmented viewing, reaction, collaboration, and participation. As fans become more accustomed to real-time interactions in their daily lives, sports organizations must adapt to meet these expectations. However, this also presents technical challenges, as the increase in participation and interaction leads to a significant increase in data volume and complexity.

I emphasized the need for organizations to find the right balance between innovation and technical feasibility, ensuring that they don't promise experiences they can't deliver at scale. This requires close collaboration between business and technical teams to create fan engagement strategies that are both ambitious and achievable.

The Impact of Immersive Experiences and AI:

Looking to the future, I explored the potential impact of immersive experiences and artificial intelligence on fan engagement. Technologies like link tracking and virtual players could revolutionize the way fans experience live sports, but they also require the ability to handle vast amounts of data in real-time. AI has the potential to enable personalized experiences and generate novel data points, but it also raises questions about the balance between server-side and client-side personalization.

I introduced the concept of "AI-personalized experiences," where AI could understand and adapt the fan experience in real-time based on individual preferences and context. This could lead to a future where fans can customize their viewing experience, from the camera angles they see to the graphics and stats overlaid on the screen.

In conclusion, I emphasized that if or when fan engagement grows exponentially, sports organizations must be prepared to handle the scale and complexity of real-time data. They will need sustainable, scalable solutions that can compete with the offerings of big tech companies and social media platforms. As the industry continues to evolve, the ability to provide personalized, immersive, and real-time fan experiences will be crucial to the success of sports and media organizations.

My keynote provided a comprehensive overview of the current state and future potential of real-time fan engagement in sports and media. My insights highlighted the need for organizations to be agile, innovative, and technically savvy in order to meet the ever-growing expectations of their fans. As the industry continues to evolve, those who can successfully navigate this complex landscape will be well-positioned to create engaging, memorable experiences for their fans.

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