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Impact of technology on professional sport & the fan experience - statistics and facts

Over the last years, technological advancements have had a profound impact on the world of professional sport, influencing not only the sports themselves but also the way in which fans can experience them. Sports such as rugby, tennis, and cricket have all utilized some form of digital assistance to ensure adherence to the rules of the game. One example is the inclusion of video assistant referee (VAR) technology. VAR’s can significantly influence the gameplay in most sports, for example, the use of Hawk-eye technology in tennis enables players to dispute the findings of the umpire, a component of the game that does not exist in the absence of this technology. Another way in which technology impacts professional sport is through using technologically assisted physiological monitoring. The use of heart rate monitors during training and play provides valuable information to both the coaching and medical teams, enabling the development of effective training plans and the early identification of cardiac risk amongst the athletes. Technological developments have also impacted the experience of the fans. One of the main examples of this is fans having more freely accessible information about the game. This can include regular match updates on a mobile app while watching the match live, or access to the match commentary or referee audio whilst within the stadium, making for a more interactive fan experience.

The impact of technology on the fan experience

The integration of technology into various aspects of professional sports has influenced the way in which many fans experience the game. One of the most notable places in which technology has impacted the experience of fans is within the stadium. Some of the most popular technological in-stadium experiences included the availability of high-speed Wi-Fi to share updates on social media, the use of earphones to listen to live commentary whilst inside the stadium watching the match, and the use of wearable devices which act as an electronic ticket for more efficient access to the event. Although the share of fans who feel that the use of emerging technologies in sports has enhanced their viewing experience varies by country, over 69 percent of sports fans worldwide stated that these emerging technologies had enhanced their overall viewing experience. A comparable share of respondents indicated that the greatest challenge associated with the emerging use of technologies within sports was that they were uncomfortable with the collection of personal data and its storage while in the stadiums.

Video assistant referees

Currently, one of the most contentious technologies used in professional sports is a video assistant referee (VAR). A VAR is a match official within association football who uses video footage to review decisions made by the head referee. This is designed to reduce any human errors that may have a significant impact on match results. During a survey of British adults looking at the attitudes towards VAR in England, over a third of respondents believed that VAR makes football matches fairer. At the beginning of the 2019-2020 season, the English Premier League introduced VAR to all matches. Many professional sports have successfully introduced similar technological assistance within the application of their rules. This includes the use of Hawk-Eye technology within professional tennis, and the use of a Television Match Official (TMO) within rugby union. Despite this, a recent survey of the British public investigating the influence of VAR on the enjoyment of the Premier League in 2020, concluded that only 27 percent of respondents believed VAR worked very or reasonably well, while 34 percent indicated that VAR had performed very poorly in the Premier League thus far.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 23 most important statistics relating to "Impact of technology on professional sport & the fan experience".


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