SPORTACCORD 2024 INSIGHTS: Major Technology Trends Shaping Sports Sector

Professor Andy Miah, widely recognised for his captivating presentations, brought today’s and tomorrow’s technology potential – and the challenges this can pose for the most fleet footed of sports organisations – to the centre stage at SportAccord 2024.

In front of an audience eager for knowledge, the Chair in Science Comms and Future Media of the University of Salford in Manchester showcased some of the hottest technology trends  “which are reshaping sectors almost monthly”. He highlighted the rise of AI generated content, its enormous popularity with young people and encouraged the delegates coming from traditional sports to learn from success stories in the e-sports industry.

Following a 20-year-rise of user-generated content it is now the era for AI-generated content, explained Miah. “Being present with these platforms, but also seeing how technologies allow us to reimagine the sport is really interesting,” he said, emphasising the huge potential of using new technologies, including AI, to engage with young audiences who largely don’t tune in to watch traditional sports. “Let’s think of how to make the audience experience more compelling, exciting and immersive.”

Fusing real and virtual worlds – the way forward

Andy Miah explained how young people are attracted by fusing the real and virtual worlds together. New technologies provide seamless capabilities to simulate events in real time, create digital twins modelling physical environments and integrate fantasy aspects like avatars and artefacts.

His advice to sport organisations: “A lot of time spent by young people in these worlds operates in a fantasy environment. So if you can access that space and bring your activities into these worlds, you are engaging that passion for fantasy.”

He showcased best practice from esports, successfully integrating digital artefacts with physical performances on stage and encouraged sports organisations to ask themselves some thought-provoking questions: “Where do you provide these opportunities for young people to engage beyond your major events?” and “How does sport reimagine its narrative by looking towards a range of these other entertainment industries that are operating around it?”

“Generation AI” – new frontier

Miah said there is huge potential for sport organisations to create an attachment with “Generation AI” by engaging with young people on their favourite platforms and empowering them to create their own content, for example by using creative AI linked to a sport and as part of a day-to-day experience. “If we find ways to do that effectively then I think we can safeguard the future of sports, but also keep evolving and innovating in that world.”

The subsequent panel discussion featured world-class expertise from David Fowler – Co-Founder of Sports Tech Match, Beth Johnson – Managing Director of Umbrella and Sulabh Soral – Head of AI at Deloitte UK, providing different perspectives on major technology trends shaping the sports sector.
Stay tuned for more exclusive insights from SportAccord 2024, coming your way over the next few weeks. Our series reveals parts of some of the most exciting discussions from Birmingham, centred around the horizontal theme “The Power of Sport”.