Technical survey | What is the industry’s top priority? Who are the market leaders? Who receives investments?

Technology will transform virtually every aspect of the sports industry. From backend operations to on-field performance, new innovations will change the way sports are organised, consumed and played. However, sports organizations are at different stages of this transformation journey and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Conducted online between December 13, 2021 and January 13, 2022, our bespoke technology survey also explored the maturity of technology strategies, identifying financial and strategic commitments made and areas of focus.

With respondents on the buy and sell side of sports tech, the survey provides valuable insight into the current state of affairs.



Data analysis, media and fan engagement are top priorities

Nearly a third of respondents (30.7%) said data and analytics would have the biggest impact on the sports industry over the next 12 months. This finding is perhaps not surprising. In all types of businesses, a better understanding of the customer base and the markets in which they operate is increasingly seen as a major competitive advantage.

The fact that respondents gave themselves an average rating of 5.8 when asked how well they use data suggests there is room for improvement and explains why analytics remains such a high priority. Media and consumption (28.1%) and fan engagement (27.2%) were the next two most popular responses, highlighting the role of technology in building and maintaining audiences.

To take with Respondents believe data and analytics will have the greatest impact next year, ahead of new approaches to media and fan engagement.


Budgets are increasing… but not enough yet

The majority of respondents (60%) said their technology budgets had increased over the past 12 months, while 25.5% said theirs had remained static and only 2.7% said theirs had decreased. . These numbers demonstrate that technology is no longer seen as a cost sink or a “necessary evil” required to support the rest of the organization.

Digital is now an integral part of the company’s overall strategy, as evidenced by the increased involvement of general management in technical projects and the appointment of dedicated executives. However, budget (29.5%) and lack of management buy-in (21.4%) are still ranked as the top two barriers to adopting new technologies, indicating there is still some way to go. to browse.

To take with Only 2.7% of budgets have shrunk over the past year as organizations prioritize technology investments.


Internal skills are considered important, but collaboration is essential

The third biggest barrier to adoption was skills (15.2%) and it’s clear that respondents value internal capabilities. More than a third (37.7%) said in-house skills or a dedicated digital department were the most important factor in building a successful digital strategy.

Most respondents work with up to ten technology partners and these are a combination of large vendors who can offer a range of services and innovative startups. There was no general consensus on whether these partners should be sport-specific suppliers, suggesting that technological capability is the most important factor when sourcing.

To take with Internal skills and collaboration are valuable capabilities, but employee buy-in and adoption are considered less important than fan engagement.


Basketball is considered a technology leader

Basketball has established a reputation as a technologically progressive sport and this view was shared by 27.1% of respondents. The National Basketball Association (NBA) in particular has been experimenting with different media consumption models, data-driven fan engagement products, and working closely with the startup community. Football comes second with 25.3% of the vote, followed by esports (14%), football (13.1%) and Formula 1 (5.6%).

To take with Basketball leads the way, ahead of football and more technological sports like esports and Formula 1.


To take with A lack of budgetary support and management are more significant barriers to adoption than infrastructure or security, suggesting that many sports organizations do not address structural or cultural issues when developing their strategies.


To take with Sports organizations tend to work with few technology partners, but this could change as digital strategies mature.


To take with Technology investments reflect strategic priorities, analytics, fan engagement, and media receiving the most attention.


To take with Off-field growth and commercial revenue generation are valued much more highly than operational efficiency and on-field performance.


To take with An average rating of 5.8 is promising, but also indicates that there is room for improvement.


This feature was originally published in issue 116 of SportsPro magazine. Learn more about editing here. To learn more about Ignition, SportsPro’s new home for sports industry technology transformation, click here.

James C. Tibbs