Social media – Pro skating’s digital skatepark

There are over 11 million active skateboarders today, but you wouldn’t know that sitting here in India. Even if you follow mainstream American or European media, you are unlikely to find too many mentions of the sport. Yet, wikipedia states that the skateboarding market was worth $4.8 billion wordwide, and that was in 2009!

The question then is, how does a sport still relatively marginalized by mainstream media attract millions of fans and build iconic superstars?

Well, back in 2000, this was how I learnt about skateboarders.

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The X Games on TV. And my PlayStation with the game Tony Hawk Pro Skater. A combination of the two made me learn about guys like Bob Burnquist, Andrew Reynolds, and my personal favourite Rodney Mullen.

If not video games, it was movies like the ’86 cult classic Thrashin’ or videos shot and released by skateboarders themselves, that historically led to the acceptance of the sport as well as the popularity of its greatest performers.

Social media and pro skaters

The video below explains through opinions from pro skateboarders ranging from the age of 16 to 40, the importance social media plays in self promotion.

As a glimpse of the perspective that the video will give you – Ten years ago, a skateboarder had to get an interview with a magazine to get his face, name and word out. Today, social media serves as is their personal magazines.

Watch the full video below. You will hear skaters talk about social media and its benefits, endless possibilities, video capabilities of Instagram, and even show a little scepticism.

This video is part of a series on the Red Bull YouTube channel called “Pushing Forward”.

 

4 not so obvious athlete branded games

Famous athletes endorse all kinds of things, from the common sport brands to some bizarre smile exercise machines from Japan. Games for consoles or mobile devices are one of them. While you might have heard of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (skateboarding) or Tiger Wood’s PGA Tour (golf), how often do you think a pro athlete endorses a game that has nothing to do with the sport they play?

In this post we will look at 4 athletes who have endorsed games that have nothing to do with the sport they are famous for.

1. Letters of Boom – Richard Sherman

The latest superstar to release a video game with his name on it is NFL’s Richard Sherman. It has nothing to do with the NFL or a field of any kind.

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8 sports stars into digital sports startups

Grabyo grabbed the headlines recently for raising money from some A list footballers and basketball star Tony Parker. Apart from generating bad puns, the development also marks the continuation of a recent trend of sports stars getting involved with digital innovation companies, especially ones that are connected to sports.

Clearly, the present generation of athlete-celebrities have moved on from partnering in restaurants and buying small stakes in franchises to finding the next Zuckerberg.

1 to 4: Henry, RvP, Fabregas, and Tony Parker – GRABYO

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Forget about 3D, now watch sports in FreeD!

Picture this: A batsmen hits a ball straight to a fielder and gets out. Now imagine the replay: a single replay that shows you how the ball moves from bowler to batsman, bat to fielder, all while changing the point of view of the camera from bowler, to batsman, to fielder.

Sound familiar? We’ve seen this before. Watch the video replay below, an example of such a replay that uses a technology called Viz Libero.

In cricket we have seen it used sporadically in different parts of the world by different broadcast partners. But guess what, the Americans are now in the act and we have to admit, making it look cooler.

Maverick technology innovation

NBA team the Dallas Mavericks aim to bring similar replays to engage their fans regularly. They have signed a partnership with Replay Technologies, a company responsible for the creation of “FreeD” video replay technology.

FreeD stands for ‘free dimensional replays’, and is similar to what we have seen in cricket. But while the cricket replay looks like it uses a very limited number of cameras, FreeD looks like it’s bigger brother. Just watch this video below to see what FreeD can do.

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What is FreeD?

FreeD is a 360-degree video system that provides a totally unique viewing experience for fans. As you’ve seen in the video above, the possibility of you missing a play because of the camera angle or some player obscuring your view of a killer pass, will now be gone.

26 FreeD-enabled cameras have been installed in American Airlines Centre (Mavericks home court), becoming the largest freeD system ever installed.

Could change how we all watch our favourite sport

This might be the first time it is used in the NBA, but it isn’t new for the world of sport. This product from Replay Technologies has been used in different instances for different sports, albeit without the name ‘FreeD’ being highlighted due to the different sponsor tie ups each sport may have had.

Here are a couple videos of FreeD being used in other sports.

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AMERICAN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

So far only a few sports have been introduced to the world of FreeD, but it might not be too long before we see this tech being used during broadcast of our favourite sport.

Great potential for training, coaching and referee training

The entertainment benefits are clear for all to see, but the potential for this tech to be used for personal training, coaching or even for referee training is immense.

In the video below, Jim Furyk’s golf swing analysis.

In the video above you would have seen that Jim Furyk’s swing isn’t conventional, but it still gave him that brilliant set-up for a birdie.

Here’s what I think the technology can be used for:

  • Self Improvement – I play a lot of football, with this replay tech I can learn what to look out for when Xabi Alonso plays a long diagonal pass in a game for Bayern Munich. In doing so I learn what he looks for, when he plays that pass, where he plays that pass, and what technique he uses.
  • Coaching – A coach can use video footage to teach a young team what player movement is needed for a quick counter attack on a hockey pitch
  • Referee training – Referees go through a lot of gruelling training sessions, mental and physical. Instead of watching match replays from a broadcast camera angle, what if referees could watch the match from the perspective of a pro linesman or pro referee? That would change everything!

Technology like this might have started off with fan engagement in mind. But the other possibilities are obvious. FreeD is really cool and if used in different ways, it could become the holy grail of training when combined with data collected from fitness tracking technologies.

I might eventually be able to watch football replays in third person, like I do when I watch my goals replays while playing FIFA on my console. That is the most exciting thing about FreeD for me.

Podcast review: Data is becoming key to those running sport teams

Public Radio International‘s Kara Miller talks to Jessica Gelman and Ben Shields about the increasing importance of data analytics in the world of sport. In an engaging 16.30 minute podcast, the discussion touches upon the use of data and analytics for player valuation and performance management on the one hand and increasing fan engagement on the other. Read on for a summary of the discussion.

The two experts

Jessica Gelman

  • Co-founder and chair of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference.
  • Vice President at the Kraft Sports Group (owns New England Patriots football team).

Ben Shields

  • Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Former social media and marketing director at ESPN.

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Why I might download an ESPN app again

Here is why I don’t use an ESPN mobile app right now.

When I bought my first Android phone a 5 years ago, I wanted a sports app that did the following 5 things:

  1. Live scores for football and cricket
  2. Gave me team details
  3. News & Transfer updates
  4. NOT take up much space on my phone’s limited storage capacity (ever get that message ‘insufficient storage’ on your phone?)
  5. NOT use all the RAM my phone had

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Social media trends and innovations in football

The International Football Arena (IFA) Berlin took place last week. First started in 1999, it is an event where top people from the business world of football get together and share ideas and insights from their individual fields of specialisation. Benjamin Stoll was there and has written a detailed account of all that was spoken about at IFA Berlin (not to be confused with the consumer electronics event).

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The primary focus of IFA Berlin was the emergence of Digital Media and its importance to the world of football. As the title suggests, social media was an important subject of discussion during this event. Below we give you a quick look at a few topics covered.  Continue reading

3 reasons why Nike gets social media

Nike saw the importance of digital marketing and shifted from traditional medium to digital media early. They are one of the kings in the social media space for sports brands, as Jessica Smith points out in her piece. As Jessica points out, there are 3 big reasons why Nike gets social media.

1. Restructured their resources

They restructured the spending of their resources and didn’t just throw money at digital. By reducing the amount spent on traditional print and TV ads (as much as 40% in the US) they rearranged that money to be spent on digital and social media campaigns. The company’s current marketing budget stands at $2.4 billion. Continue reading

Some fan engagement stats that you won’t see in India (yet)!

Q1 Productions have made an infographic filled video of fan engagement stats from American sports. Data like this is hard to come by in India where stadiums lack the technologies to engage spectators, let alone monitor how many have entered the stadium without a ticket!

Here are some interesting points that stood out for us.

  • 88% of sports fans use a second screen, i.e. their laptop or mobile phones for additional data on a game that they are watching live on TV.
  • Getting spectators to your stadium early increases their overall spending. 40% increase in early arrivals increased overall spend by 59% at Seattle Sounders FC
  • Interacting with fans in the stands with cheering activities such as ‘Shout’ can create new habits for them to follow.

Watch the whole video below