The Future of Sports Viewing: AI and Tech-Savvy Fans Lead the Way

As sports fans across the globe tune in to a summer packed with athletic events, fresh research reveals a tech-driven evolution in how we consume sports. This study by IBM uncovers a generational shift and an increasing acceptance of AI-enhanced experiences that are set to transform the future of sports viewing.  

From live coverage to highlights and summaries, the findings highlight a clear preference for personalized and time-saving digital sports content. Most fans recognize the positive impact technologies like AI will have on their viewing experiences.

The rise of AI in sports   

Younger fans, particularly those aged 18-29, are at the forefront of this technological embrace. This group is more likely to use mobile devices or tablets to watch sports events and favors subscription streaming services. As many as 58% of these young fans believe AI will enhance their sports experiences.

In contrast, older fans (45+) remain loyal to traditional viewing methods, with linear broadcasting being the top choice. However, even among those over 55, 40% see AI as a positive influence in sports.

Fans crave personalized content   

According to the survey, 63% of respondents believe data analytics positively impacts sports, and 50% think AI will have a similar effect. Fans identify real-time updates (34%) and personalized content (29%) as the top benefits of generative AI, with India, UAE, and Saudi Arabia leading in prioritizing these AI-powered enhancements.

The study also reveals a shift towards more concise and personalized sports content. Social media emerges as a major source, with 56% of fans using it for additional sports content, followed by broadcast/video news (46%) and news articles (35%). Highlights and post-match recaps are particularly popular, with 64% watching highlight videos and 48% consuming post-match analysis.

Another survey on consumer preferences revealed that while ads boost brand awareness, 41% of consumers prefer brands that consistently engage with personalized communication over those relying on big-game advertising to drive sales.

Multi-device viewing  on the rise

Younger sports enthusiasts are revolutionizing how sports content is consumed by embracing multi-screen experiences and favoring enhancements driven by artificial intelligence. They lead in using multiple devices while watching sports, with 10% utilizing three or more screens, contrasting sharply with older fans. These younger fans prioritize real-time updates (40%) and personalized content (36%), often accessing sports highlights via social media platforms.

Despite television maintaining its dominance in sports viewing, there's a noticeable shift towards fans adopting multiple devices to enrich their engagement.

Mobile devices are increasingly popular, serving as the primary choice for 20% of fans and the secondary choice for 38%. Moreover, 28% of fans multitask with at least two devices during live sports viewing, a behavior also observed during sports broadcasts.