Web 3.0 And Sports

The sports industry was traditionally perceived as a laggard and conservative context, usually slow to take a position in or embrace new technologies. Nevertheless, a number of its unique characteristics like unmatched customer (fan) loyalty, mass market appeal and a high tendency towards marketability (athletes, teams, leagues, and governing bodies as attractive platforms for sponsors, media, and other stakeholders within the sport-commercialization-nexus) allow it to be at the forefront of latest technology and data trends. this is often especially visible when an “outside-in” approach is applied, i.e., when brands, sponsors, technology providers or other entities with a billboard appetite plan to utilize sport organizations as a vehicle to showcase or leverage their technology and data-driven products, services, experiences, or transformational offerings (Pine & Gilmore, 1999). The latter refers to Pine and Gilmore’s version of value as a progressive process aimed toward creating transformational business offerings, e.g., providing value for fans via gamification or tokenization.

In the realm of sports, Web 3.0 technologies have the potential to create new opportunities for engagement, monetization, and fan experience. One example of how Web 3.0 technologies are being used in sports is the use of blockchain to create decentralized, fan-owned sports teams. This allows fans to become shareholders in the team, giving them a say in important decisions and allowing them to share in the team's success financially. Additionally, blockchain technology can be used to create digital collectibles or tokens that represent players, games, or other elements of a team or league. These tokens can be traded on marketplaces, creating a new way for fans to engage with their favorite teams and players. As the web 3.0 sports industry continues to evolve, metaverse developers and each leading metaverse development company is likely to partner with blockchain technology experts to revolutionize the way fans interact and engage with their favorite teams and players.

What does web 3.0 mean for sport?

Although web 3.0 technology remains in their infancy with their full potential faraway from realized. However sports organizations are already exploring how they will leverage their assets and communities to extend fan interaction and engagement through this technologies.

The sports world and especially sports events are wanting to become more experiential as consumers seek more immersive experiences, where they will engage with events, athletes and fellow fans to reinforce their experience. This suggests the industry increasingly must deliver new concepts and formats to supply a continually engaging and exciting fan experience.

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Sky Sports are arguably at the forefront of this movement, partnering with The Hundred cricket tournament to make avatars using motion capture and augmented reality. This provided a replacement broadcasting experience and brings fans and players together during a way we’ve never seen before. The pleasure of live sport is based on shared experiences, and sport is embracing new technology to compile the delight of shared consumption in a virtual world, potentially delivering sporting experiences that are not limited by physical presence, unlocking endless opportunity.

The use of virtual environments also can be beneficial for performance in sport, whether you are a professional or not. For instance, those wishing to pursue a football career may have the chance within the future to coach from their garden during a virtual world, then compare their performance to professional players, like Ronaldo or Messi. The metaverse will provide you with different analytics regarding your performance, like what percentage times you touched the ball compared to them, or what percentage shots were on track. However, as Jean-Baptiste Alliot, Chief Strategy Officer at LaSource & Advisor to UEFA Innovation Hub explains 'the technology to support this is often still in development, meaning the utilization cases for sport during a virtual world are still evolving and yet to completely unfold.'

At the guts of the online 3.0 movement is decentralization, meaning a serious trend of web 3.0 are going to be round the decentralization of knowledge ownership and therefore the shifting of power back to content creators, and far away from the large platforms, like Facebook or YouTube. An example for a way this might translate into the sports industry is with athlete data. Web 2.0 is increasingly being questioned as many athletes don’t have control of their data and the way it's used. For instance, when optical tracking is currently utilized in sport, athlete data is obtained and analyzed by tracking technology providers and athletes don’t have access to the present. However with web 3.0, the thought is you become the owner of your content, suggesting that the facility will shift back towards athletes, allowing them to actively use and leverage their own data to their advantage.

For rights holders and sports organizations the question for the longer term is how they will "work with companies like Meta to leverage communities", for sport this is often a fundamental concept of web 3.0 and therefore the metaverse. These Meta communities may include avatars or several communities that move seamlessly between the actual and virtual worlds. There are now a limited number of seats available at live sporting events, but a shift to utilizing the metaverse and web 3.0 might allow spectators to virtually stroll onto the pitch, attend a virtual bar, or sit with their friends during a virtual world, while not being physically present. This is often predicted to extend fan engagement and loyalty and make virtual 'communities' of fans all watching sport during a new and exciting format. This is often a bold way forward for sports events.

Furthermore, NFT’s (non-fungible tokens) are predicted to play a key role in how the metaverse will transform the longer term of sport. NFTs are one-of-a-kind cryptographic tokens that cannot be reproduced and exist only on the blockchain. Combining NFT’s with the metaverse creates the potential for brand spanking new revenue streams from ticketing, increased fan engagement, and new ways for sponsors or casters to potentially immerse their involvement in sports and broaden their exposure outside of the context of live events or television. This might be through the utilization of avatars using NFT 'wearables', NFT season tickets to virtual stadiums, or NFT’s of sports team’s kit, including their sponsors’ logo. Sporting organizations therefore got to cash in of those new opportunities to complement the fan experience, maximize their potential revenue and optimize their use of the digital world, but these ideas are likely to require shape over subsequent 5-15 years.


The challenges of a technology driven future

The promise of Web 3.0 is to compile the enjoyment of shared consumption that we currently only experience within the actual world, into a virtual world.

But a crucial concern is: Will this simply lengthen the already lengthy awake hours we spend online, devouring digital content? The view by some is that these new innovations potential to enhance our 'digital time' and improve our current digital behaviors "with the promise of increased presence, embodiment and Rhys Beer, Director of Content, Strategy, and Planning at Meta. Those at the guts of those technology developments understand the results of delivering even more digital experiences into our lives. An increased reliance on technology will naturally increase our screen time, highlighting the importance of optimizing such experiences to make sure its quality time that enriches our physical lives. Future digital experiences are getting to create personal connections that enhance our real lives, and in doing so aims to scale back the 'mindless scrolling' that has become a part of current digital experiences and not a 'good' use of your time .

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