I grew up in Massachusetts and if you're from that area, you know there are three things we hold near and dear to our heart: Family, faith and the Boston Red Sox. I remember listening intently on a radio -- barely able to hear the action up the road at Fenway Park. Straining to hear every last crack of the bat, every last call,
I had one of two options -- this radio or a TV with poor reception. That was then; this is now. And as we head toward October -- a month that long tormented me in the years before 2004 -- I'm reminded again of how technology has changed sports, and our lives, around the globe.
Sports have defined our culture. It brings out the spirit of competition, the foundation of winning and losing and a brilliant means to extract yourself from a difficult day and get lost in your childhood once again. But it has also constructed empires both directly and indirectly-creating opportunity for not only owners and players, but also athletic apparel makers, advertisers, and, perhaps most importantly from where I sit -- media entertainment & distribution companies and service providers.
In fact, one could also easily argue that sports have completely revolutionized the technology industry. Brands such as major league baseball, the PGA, NFL, NBA and auto racing -- sports that are generally considered top tier in this country -- have become so popular, consumers are driving down the doors of the service providers to watch their favorite teams from anywhere, anytime, and with no delay.
A relationship in duality, technology innovation is revolutionizing sports. The market is so powerful, more regions want these sports thereby driving demand thereby driving innovation. New devices are hitting the market and new data packages are being offered by carriers that will allow viewers a new way to follow their team. Brands are ever hungry for a greater following and technology -- particularly mobile devices -- is making it easier to sell tickets, merchandise, and even video and data packages.
Service providers recognize the power of new devices and are opening up new worlds of mobile video applications to consumers -- applications that are both bandwidth intensive yet highly desirable. So carriers that add new capacity to their network stand the best chance of winning--and keeping customers. Those that don't will be sitting on the bench.
Want proof? Nielsen conducted a survey last December that showed 85 percent of tablet owners use their devices as a second screen -- meaning they use it while watching TV. That same report also concluded a third of those folks use their devices to check sports scores WHILE watching another game. As a Red Sox fan, someone who carefully monitors what those "Bums from the Bronx" are doing, I fill that bracket.
Sports have really defined our economy. Tickets, jerseys, t-shirts, sneaker brands, TV packages... mobile devices? Technology is adding a new dimension to that opportunity and service providers, advertisers and -- most importantly -- the sports brands themselves are cashing in. In 2012, Plunkett Research estimated the value of the U.S. sports market at $440 to $470 billion. Imagine how far technology will take it 10 years from now? Hopefully my Red Sox will have won another World Series by then and I will have watched every run and every nerve-wracking out... even while pacing around the block.