Several of the leading tech companies in the sports industry have a number of innovations in the works that will shape the way sports fans interact with their favorite teams and athletes. These innovations include social media, e-commerce, in-stadium e-commerce, and gamification of the fan experience.

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E-sports participation

During the past decade, esports participation has become one of the fastest growing forms of media in the world. The industry is expected to surpass $1.5 billion by 2023. This growth has been fueled by digital innovations that have provided fans with a variety of mediums to watch, interact with, and participate in esports events.

A new model of fan as a-participant is emerging in futuristic virtual sporting arenas. As technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) change esports games, the role of the player could change to include a three-dimensional, fully-immersed experience. This is a significant step forward for future virtual technologies.

As esports expands globally, sports organizations and broadcasters can capitalize on transactional opportunities while enhancing fan engagement. As sports-hungry fans look for new alternatives, traditional sports have a chance to build loyalty and establish strong digital connections with younger audiences. These fan engagement strategies can lead to new commercial assets.

Social platforms

Whether it's watching a game or chatting about it, sports fans are becoming more and more engaged. And with the advent of social platforms, fans can now interact with their favorite teams and players. And, it's not just fans - organizations have also begun to leverage the power of social media.

One of the most popular social media platforms for sports fans is YouTube. The site is home to traditional sports content, but it also provides access to live scores, match statistics, and interactive features like in-match betting and text commentary.

Another popular social media platform for sports fans is Instagram. The platform allows users to post images and videos up to an hour long. Its features include stories, stickers, and themed frames. The platform also allows users to customize stickers and frames to match the colors of their favorite team.

In-stadium e-commerce

Introducing new technologies into stadiums will elevate the fan experience and increase revenue. For example, the American Airlines Center in Dallas has introduced mobile point of sale systems. And the Cleveland Cavaliers fans have been purchasing items from their seats during the 2015 NBA Finals.

Adding technology to a stadium can improve the overall experience, whether it's ordering food or accessing the restroom. The American Airlines Center, for example, has introduced Apple Pay and contactless payments. It also allows fans to enjoy new features like in-app wayfinding.

Technology is also making it easier to sell tickets. In-seat mobile ordering is a must-have feature for sports arenas. And in-stadium Wi-Fi is becoming ubiquitous.

Sports fans want to be part of the action. This is not to say that they don't want to watch the game from home. In fact, 20 percent of U.S. Millennials like to watch sports on their phones.

Connected televisions

OTT video services are all the rage with consumers cutting the cord in droves. The old fashioned way of watching live sporting events isn't all that it used to be. The new school has made sports a more enjoyable experience than ever before. For ad agencies, the buzz is all about capturing the attention of this fervent fanatics and snatching up those prime ad spots. The likes of sports fans are not to be trifled with.

This has resulted in a plethora of new and exciting media opportunities to be had. As far as OTT video services go, there are more than three times as many consumers using the service as there were a year ago. One study found that the average consumer uses the service to watch nearly four hours of content per month.

Gamifying the fan experience

Bringing game-like elements into sports adds value to active participants and inactive fans. Games such as fantasy football, eSports, and fantasy leagues create competitive experiences that are exciting and engaging. In addition, the data collected from these gamified experiences can be used to improve personalisation and direct marketing, as well as drive sales.

For instance, the Fantasy Premier League connects over 7 million players worldwide each season. Fantasy games offer an opportunity for fans to build and manage their own teams, and share their team pride with others. Fantasy leagues also create sharable achievements and League Invites. These activities can help drive continued engagement, generate talkable topics, and generate subscriptions.

Other gamified experiences, such as those from Fanzee, offer a marketplace for players to buy and sell digital collectibles and participate in interactive challenges. These include quiz challenges, collection building, and bet challenges. Fanzee's platform uses tokenization to provide an advanced gamification experience.