Highlights from #SXSports: Day One

By Natalie England – March 7, 2014


The sheer size and magnitude of SXSW is nothing short of amazing, if not even a little overwhelming. There doesn’t seem to be a humanly way to recapture all of the day’s highlights. Every inch of sidewalk and event space has been developed into an area of possibility. Venture downtown, and there’s no telling what you’ll get into—badge or no badge.

Please accept this as a small glimpse into the inspiring minds and intelligent conversations populating downtown Austin.

Arena vs. Couch: The Battle of the Game Day Experience

As ticket prices are on the rise, and television quality continues to improve, there are more reasons than ever to skip the stadium and watch from the comforts of home. And some argue that technology is even distracting those who do attend sporting events—everyone is looking down at a smartphone.

The forward-thinking sports teams are finding ways to convert technology into fan engagement. This isn’t a new-age idea. The kiss-cam is a primitive example of fan engagement, but now teams are forced to be more innovative.

“We have to make the experience something that they actively want to share,” said Bryan Srabian, the director of digital media for the San Francisco Giants. “We’ve learned that our fans are very savvy, and they’ll create a lot of great content. We need to use them. Let them be the brand and the voice. We try to give our fans the platform.”

Jordan Maleh, the director of digital marketing for Michigan Athletics, said technological advancements will allow programs to have a more personalized relationship with their fans.

Learning from Fans 

Social media has become the 21st century tool for bragging rights. Bob Morgan, CEO of SportStream, said social media feeds show most posts come during moments of celebration.

“Moments you want to share, and let people know you are there,” Morgan said.

Morgan’s tech start-up, SportStream, is aimed at helping teams cultivate the conversations in the stadium and on the couch. They can see content trends on every team and player.

By the Numbers

Sports data reveals tendencies and talents, and it enhances the fan experience by supplying context to performance. But more and more, professional and elite-level college teams are looking to data to capture the science of improvement.

“When you’re looking at running or cycling, you’re mostly interested in distance, speed, and duration. They’re relatively easy to measure,” said Adir Shiffman, chairman and founder of Catapult Sports. “Skill sports are harder to measure.”

Whether it's wearable sensors with GPS capability or motion-tracking cameras capable of capturing 25 images per second, the science of athletics has moved beyond heart-rate monitors and into the world of big data and analytics.

This technology is developed for the highly-tuned professional athlete, whose job performance is tied to physical performance.

“The jury is still out on how (this technology) is going to trickle down to consumers — normal, high-performing amateur athletes,” Shiffman said.

Write it Down

“To get 10 seconds of someone’s attention is extremely valuable.” — Bryan Srabian

Top Tweet

“Mark Cuban has apparently said he doesn’t want wifi in his stadium because fans can’t clap with a device in their hand.” — @reecejacobsen


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