In 2019, virtual reality experiences are going to look a lot better and will garner more interest among fans, more coaches and athletes will turn to wearables, and targeted content will win over the hearts of millenials.

 

Next-generation camera systems will lean further into VR in 2019, giving fans, specifically NBA fans, some of the most immersive sports viewing experiences possible from one’s home. The NBA on TNT VR app, which launched prior to All-Star Weekend in February, relaunched its weekly NBA game in VR service Dec. 27. The service is powered by Intel True VR, and according to the company, the latest VR experience boasts an updated app, more real-time data overlays and improved cameras. Other sports leagues have dabbled with VR as well, and I’m guessing as 5G slowly begins to rollout, and camera tech continues to improve, VR experiences will become a much more approachable option for sports fans watching games at home.

Global shipments of wearable devices reached 32 million units in the third quarter of 2018, a year-over-year increase of nearly 22 per cent, and I think the introduction of more sophisticated features on basic wearables, combined with a focus on healthcare for smartwatches, will cause that number to go up. Apple delved deeper into healthcare by unveiling its FDA-approved heart rate sensor in September, followed by the launch of Fitbit’s Fitbit Care platform for wellness and prevention and disease management. The deep, personal insights gained from these devices are super valuable for coaches and athletes, especially when it comes to performance and recovery.

And lastly, streaming services and social channels will receive a lot more advertising dollars. Cable TV bundles are no longer than preferred way to follow your favourite sports teams.

Digital platforms such as SlingTV or DirecTV Now are becoming more popular, and it’s making it easier for teams to collect all kinds of data and effectively target fans who are already interested in their content. The Miami Dolphins, for example, have moved nearly 80 per cent of their marketing budget to social media, using Facebook posts and videos to better target people who are more likely to become season-ticket holders based on comments, likes and shares. I expect a lot more sports teams to make that shift, especially the ones in the smaller market that don’t get a lot of screen time on cable TV.

That’s what will be trending in 2019. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC podcast network. 



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