Esports, OTT & Performance Culture Take Centre Stage at Performance Data & Fan Engagement Summit San Francisco

The Performance Data and Fan Engagement Summit landed in San Francisco last week and was host to a little under 600 delegates across two days.

With a 150 strong Speaker faculty ranging from NASCAR, FC Barcelona, to the Seattle Seahawks, Nike, Crossfit, Tough Mudder, Instagram and Twitter and was host to some of the leading minds in the sports technology, broadcast, fan engagement and performance space.

Several themes became increasingly prevalent from all parts of the industry. The linear-digital broadcast evolution will make huge plays in 2018 and marketers need to be creative with live content to stay relevant in the OTT space and fan created content remains a premium.

From an engagement perspective the key message was to integrate into a prospective fans culture and not to force them into yours. When applying new technology, fan engagement remains the number one focus, followed by solving customer problems and then generating revenue: if the first two are in place the third will look after itself. Culturally clubs and leagues need to be 'fan-first' but then how they define 'value' and look at returns on experience and engagement will lead directly to commercial returns in the short, mid and long terms. The continued rise of eSports was common conversation point, and the ability to engage huge numbers and for sustained periods of time will be a key part of league and teams 360" end-to-end engagement strategies.

Immersive technology remains one of the most exciting technologies, with increased connectivity and 'smart stadiums' will lead to hyper-connected fan zones and brand engagement opportunities. Virtual reality requires greater consumer adoption but with activations around some of the biggest sports events over the next few years can revolutionize how we create and consume content.

On the performance side a key element across all sports was the importance of performance feedback systems to monitor peak fitness, athlete readiness and recovery and then how we can effectively tailor training programmes and prevent overtraining and burnout in the hectic schedules of pro sport. With the abundance of analysis tools available and overload of data it is more essential than ever before to determine which information is critical, how it is farmed and what the performance hypotheses are. A key and consistent takeaway was that rather than to focus on marginal gains we should create a sustainable high performance culture and support both coaches and athletes with the technology available. We are definitely witnessing a shift away from overly data centric approaches to a more humanistic cultural approach.

From a technology perspective, the Sports Tech Investment Priorities & Adoption workshop was a huge success and key takeaways were the increased seamlessness in wearable tech and an increasing requirement for companies to fully understand the cultural nuance of the global sports market and be agile in their commercial strategy as the look to introduce products to market.

Video highlights will be released in the next few weeks, but a big thank you again to all our speaking faculty, event sponsors and delegates. Next stop, London!