Analytics are changing the way people workout, athletes play and coaches coach but will it eventually impact the fans’ experience and engagement?
Google Glass has pushed the word wearable into the mainstream and the wearable market is growing at a rapid rate with Apple iWatches, Nike FuelBands and Strava workout apps. The wearables designed to track daily workouts and calorie burn are getting more stylish and easier to implement into our daily lives versus the old school heart rate monitors that relied on a body strap and a clunky watch. Tracking, saving, sharing and comparing your workout statistics like route, speed, distance, calories burned and even your ‘Suffer Score’ takes seconds but these are nothing compared to what’s being implemented at the collegiate and professional level.
Catapult Sports is an Australian born company producing wearables for elite athletes at professional sports franchises and universities. 7 NFL teams, 5 NBA teams, 14 universities, 54 Soccer teams, 23 Rugby teams, 26 Australian Football teams and 22 Rowing teams have all implemented Catapult’s sports science and analytics tools into their programs. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and customer of Catapult recently said, “wearable analytics will be a critical advantage in pro sports and eventually in business.” He also has an equity stake in Catapult.
Here’s how Catapult works. Athletes tuck lightweight Optimeyes or tags into their jerseys and GPS nodes that are spaced throughout the stadium pick up player movements down to 20 centimeters. The system tracks all of the basic information like heart rate, speed and distance but goes way beyond. Their scientific micro-measurement tool called Inertial Movement Analysis measures acceleration, deceleration, changes in direction, jumps and force using accelerometers and gyroscopes tracking every athlete’s movement in a real-world coordinate system. Data is synced in the cloud and immediately available via Catapult’s data visualization interface.
If amateur athletes, which are most likely fans of professional sports, and professional athletes are both using wearables, when and where do the two meet during games? What if upon entering a sporting event, fans are given or purchase wristbands to wear that track their movements or their own wearables are synced to the team app and GPS nodes in the stadium?
Fan Analytics - heart rate, calories burned, arms waived, hands clapped, jumps up and down combined with decibel levels in the stadium.
Athlete Analytics - heart rate (Tour de France has shown this for years on TV), burst speed, mph, total miles, gforce of a tackle and vertical jump on a dunk or catch.
All of this information immediately available to the fan and sports franchise. Who are the rowdiest fans? What sections are the most or least engaged? The average heart rate of the team, the fans or the entire stadium during that last possession, that touchdown run or when that three pointer was drained would give the franchise the opportunity to deepen fan engagement by them feeling more involved in the game. Wait...forget ‘more involved’, they are IN the game and IN the experience. Teams can send mobile app coupons to the rowdiest fans for swag in the pro shop, badges for fans’ social channels, show the rowdiest fans up on the jumbotron or get them upgraded tickets to the next game and fans sharing their experience from the team app is just a click away from their social channels.
The best experiences at sporting events are not just what happens on the court, ice, pitch or field but also the reaction, noise and energy of the crowd. Athlete analytics, stadium data, fan experience and social engagement. Everybody Wins!