Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and eSports: How Excited Should We Be For the Future of Sport Consumption?

The future world of media is an exciting concept when looking at how sport can be consumed. As of today, there are three main trends that shape the future of sport consumption: eSports, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. In my previous blogs, we looked at the history of print media, and the more recent advancement of technology that has allowed for a mix of traditional and new media. In this blog, we will look at the future of sport consumption, and how it is being advanced due to the development of technology and the corresponding rise of technology usage.

eSports

The growth of eSports is already evident by the 305% growth in live audiences spectating eSports between 2014-2019 (Olsen, 2015). Additionally, the future growth of eSports is backed by many as the current investment in the industry has outpaced the revenue growth, providing evidence that investment in eSports is a safe bet (Newman et al., 2022). The global eSports audience is constantly rising, with a number of 320 million people in 2018 (DiFrancisco-Donoghue and Balentine, 2018) leading to the consideration of eSports being involved in the Paris 2024 Olympic games, and the introduction of eSports leagues being attached to major sporting leagues around the world, including the ePremier League; the eSports version of the Premier League where all 20 Premier League clubs compete online and offline. With a previous background of high interest in eSport live events shown from enthusiasts, and the large investment shown from major sport leagues, it is highly likely that eSports will continue to be an important part of future sport consumption.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Slightly different to eSports, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) look to advance the experience of a consumer around live sporting events.

Firstly, AR has allowed broadcasting channels to enhance the product they deliver to the consumers. AR is a complimentary product to a broadcast in order to appease the wants of the consumer as they look for more content to consume and make their viewing experience greater (Goebert et al., 2022). This gives the viewer more control over how they want to watch the event, with different options being available that may include greater detail about the event, or a different camera angle to watch the event from. AR has also been advanced to allow consumers who are directly consuming the event to improve their in-stadium experience. Most commonly, AR features are integrated on mobile devices to provide consumers with extra information regarding the game, or virtual extensions like objects or graphics (Uhlendorf and Uhrich, 2022). AR has been made available for both direct and indirect consumers to meet consumer motives for spectating, and therefore allows the organisation to improve the consumers experience, creating a greater relationship with the consumer and eventually leading to a greater likelihood of repeat purchase.

VR is revolutionising the way in which sport is watched, rather than watching on a TV screen, the consumer can watch through a 3D, 360-degree camera to provide an immersive experience. Through VR, consumers can spectate games from viewpoints that are normally inaccessible or only accessible to a select number of people. This enhances the consumer experience that can be offered, with greater interactivity for the consumer meaning that they are less likely to turn to a second screen and stop their consumption of the product being offered (Kim and Yo, 2019).

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