It has been an amazing year for sports tech; from funky snapchat filters to immersive virtual reality. Here’s a few sports technology firsts that happened in 2016.
Livestreaming – MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL jumped on the livestreaming bandwagon to bring fans (from anywhere) closer to the game. The NFL announced twitter as their exclusive streaming partner to stream Thursday Night Football. The NBA partnered with Twitter to broadcast original programming. The MLB and NHL both struck deals with Twitter to livestream games weekly.
Virtual Reality – In addition to livestreaming, VR has been a huge hit, particularly in basketball. The NBA partnered with NextVR to broadcast live games courtside. “This programming marks the first regular schedule of live game delivered by a professional sports league”. VR isn’t only for the fans, players can benefit from the technology as well. The Detroit Pistons’ Andre Drummond uses VR to improve his free throw percentage. “The Pistons collaborated with STRIVR Labs, a virtual reality company that has worked with other professional sports teams like the Washington Wizards and Dallas Cowboys“.
Facebook Messenger Bot – The Washington Capitals are the first NHL team to use a Facebook messenger bot to field questions from fans in real time.
Microchips in Footballs – The NFL has been experimenting by putting microchips in footballs which could help eliminate discrepancy in play calls on the field and possibly reduce the space between field goal posts.
Robot Tackling Dummies– The Pittsburgh Steelers are practicing with robot tackling dummies to make practice safer for their players.
Nothing but Green for the San Francisco 49ers – the San Francisco 49ers unveiled a rooftop garden (yes on top of their stadium) that generates 150 pounds of produce per week! “The rooftop includes solar panels and produces 40 different crops including tomatoes, squash, eggplant, peppers and zucchini. Plus, there’s an herbs garden with basil, sage and lavender.” Yum!
With all of this new technology debuting in 2016, sports business looks to push fan experience to new heights in 2017.