Earlier this month, Messe Düsseldorf as organiser, and DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga as partner, presented the SportsInnovation 2018. This inaugural innovation trade fair aimed at providing a glimpse at the future of professional sports in the topics of data analytics, broadcasting, and in-stadium experience. Alexander Günther, Managing Director at DFL subsidiary Sportcast, and Tim Achberger, Head of Innovation & Technology Management at Sportcast, share their insights into the event.
Which aspects of SportsInnovation 2018 left you with the strongest impressions?
Alexander Günther: This new industry meeting, as a synergy of sports, technology, and media, is the expression of the international culture of innovation, with which the DFL wants to break new ground together with its partners. My perception was that all participants – exhibitors, visitors, panellists, and organisers – felt the positive impulses brought forward by such an aggregate concentration of innovative ideas, and everybody seemed to embrace this new way of networking enthusiastically.
Three Innovation Matches were in the main focus of the event, allowing for various new technologies to be displayed and tested, while vendors presented themselves with live showcases. Has this exhibition model proven to be a favourable one?
Alexander Günther: Yes, based on the feedback of both exhibitors and visitors, we can certainly say that this format has worked well. The idea behind SportsInnovation was not to design the perfect showcase, but we set out to actively help shape the future. We intend to continue to develop exciting content and entertainment for the Bundesliga fans, in conjunction with our global partners.
Tim Achberger: Experiencing and testing technical innovation pertaining to sports and media live was the key to the event’s success. Pioneering companies showed the courage and willingness to allow a peek at technologies and products that may still be in development, and to invite feedback and welcome interaction; that is as close to actively participating in forming the future of sportstech – and sports – as it gets. The concept is designed to enable a high level of interaction between guests and vendors, and the positive atmosphere reflected the intense exchange between participants.
Get an impression of what happened on the second day of the innovation trade fair here.
What feedback did you receive from exhibitors and visitors?
Tim Achberger: The overall feedback was highly favourable. Both vendors and guests praised the open communication and valuable exchange; people talked passionately about new ideas, products and services. The unique pooling of leading experts from sports, media, and tech industry fields, along with such a diverse group of guests, ranging from top decision makers to operational specialists, created a forum that allowed for meaningful discourse in a comfortable learning environment. One thing most guests said was: ‘We’ll definitely come back.’
How soon may we expect the implementation of any of the new technologies that were on show in Düsseldorf in the Bundesliga?
Tim Achberger: An imminent utilisation of some technologies is a realistic possibility; in fact, one of the special cameras tested during the Innovation Matches was already used on Match Day 34, when FC Bayern München played against VfB Stuttgart. Currently, we are analysing the data of all the tested components, and we are also eager to find out which other new products and services might soon become part of our Bundesliga Match Day broadcasts.
Alexander Günther: However, we need to keep in mind that new ideas and procedures are not an end unto themselves. In close cooperation with our partners – who were quite enthralled by some of the new technologies – we will decide which products have the potential to add value to the Bundesliga experience and to excite the fans. The initial idea was to mainly approach driving forces for technological advancement in broadcasting, match analysis, and in-stadium experience. In all of these areas promising impulses were presented. I think the orchestration of interplay between video, audio, data, and graphics will be a determining factor in future developments.