Watch: Former U.S. Olympian Says Technology Is Changing the Way We Root For Sports

Willamette Week

Technology is changing sports fans.

Angela Ruggiero, a former U.S. Olympic hockey player, Olympic Gold medal winner, and co-founder of the Sports Innovation Lab, said during a talk at TechfestNW in April that we are entering a new age of sports viewing.

While the market of sports entertainment is strong, Ruggiero said (it’s one of the last forms of live content people tune in for; stokes passion; and is built on decades of rivalries) new forms of entertainment cause “cracks in the foundation,” and lead to fewer people participating in sports.

“At the Sports Innovation Lab, we get asked one question over and over,” Ruggiero said. “‘How do we engage the future fan?'”

She added that, “technology is fundamentally changing the business of sports”—meaning fans are now “fluid,” or more open to discovering new content or following players instead of teams.

“If the sports industry thinks they know their fan, their core consumer well one day; the next day they are completely different,” Ruggiero said.

She classified a fluid fan as one that is open to change, empowered to choose and continuously evolving.

“LeBron James, when he got traded, did you keep following him?” she asked. “Yes. You did.”

As technology advances team owners find themselves managing media franchises with valuable data, Ruggiero said, like athlete’s performance stats, which can be sold and bartered.

Team owners are experimenting with how to manage and repackage the content they own, so that they don’t just air games live but allow fans to do things like bet on outcomes from the stadium.

“If you can see how fast I’m skating, my plus-minus rating, my perspiration rate, how much I slept last night,” Ruggiero said, “combine all those factors and you’re probably going to make more money than the guy [betting] next to you.”

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