Ten years ago, ESPN.com was born and television and newspapers soon went the way of the telegraph.
OK, it didn't quite happen that way. But in the years since ESPN.com launched on April 1, 1995, sports fans have grown accustomed to getting scores and watching highlights on their computer. They don't have to wait for the Sunday sports section to get their baseball statistics. And they can manage their own fantasy teams with just a few clicks of the mouse.
In the next decade, fans will still be able to watch "SportsCenter" and they'll still be able to load up their favorite highlights from their cubicles at work, but they will also be able to do it all on their cell phones. It's clear that the winner who emerges from all the expected advances in technology over the next decade will be the fan. For example, fans at the Kentucky-Michigan State game this past weekend could have called friends watching at home to see if Patrick Sparks' shot at the buzzer was in fact a 3-pointer. In the future, fans in the stands might be able to see the replay on their phones before a ruling is made.
|Highlights in your hip pocket|
Recently, MLB announced it will be launching a service that will allow fans to watch entire games and receive instant updates on their favorite team over their cell phones. Aaron LaBerge, ESPN.com's vice president of technology and business operations, helps identify some of the other ways you'll be experiencing sports over the next 10 years:
• Participate in a live fantasy draft on your Internet-connected game console
• Experience a personalized broadcast experience on your TV, radio, mobile phone and computer
• Watch game highlights and buy tickets using your mobile phone
• Watch any historical sporting event on demand
"Technology is really driving what we watch and how we consume it," said Mark Shapiro, ESPN's executive vice president of programming and production. "From the Internet to broadband to high definition to video-on-demand to digital video recorders and how that has changed the role of cable television. People consume sports in so many different ways that television, especially with young folks, isn't necessarily the first stop. So as a sports media company, you just want to make sure you are where the fans are at any waking moment. So when they turn to their device of choice, you have something there that is original, compelling and live."
Ted Leonsis, vice chairman of America Online and owner of the Washington Capitals, said new technology allows a sports fan to get news from a variety of sources. That's why leagues, teams and broadcasters feel the pressure to be in every space.
"There's been all sorts of research that young people have a greater capacity to multi-task than people a generation or two [before] them, so we are competing in an environment where we have to throw our programming out to consumers who are doing two or three or four things at the same time," Leonsis said.
Leonsis contends that while it was originally believed the Internet would replace television, it's now apparent the two work well side-by-side. "The Internet helps drive consumption," Leonsis said. "My 16-year-old son was the commissioner of his fantasy league and made me sign up for [DirecTV's] NFL Sunday Ticket, which I had no interest in, because he was going game to game with real interest in the players and the stats."