BT and Sky look to put the fans at the heart of live sport

Sky and BT, for the fans
Putting fan interaction at the heart of sports coverage

This week has seen the two rival sports broadcasters each announce new partnerships with two new companies, both aimed at driving fan engagement at sporting events.

Sky pulled the trigger on a £300,000 investment with InCrowd, a mobile fan engagement business built by the team behind the football manager's best friend, Opta, while BT has put its money where video-based startup SeenIt is.

InCrowd is all about its mobile applications bringing real-time analysis and content to the fans, wherever they are, as well as bringing clubs and fans together through direct interactions.

"This is the latest in a series of investments in pioneering technology companies, which we know bring real benefits to customers," said Sky's Director of Corporate Development and Strategic Investments, Emma Lloyd.

"We're really looking forward to working with InCrowd, a company that shares our passion for innovation, and for finding new and exciting ways to deliver content."

Interestingly another string to InCrowd's bow is its own hive connectivity tech, called TribeHive Connectivity, which allows mobile devices to share available connections from with its own apps. When a device is requesting data from the app without signal it will crowdsource the information via the created app network.

Having that running within stadia during events, and feeding through into Sky's live coverage represents an interesting prospect.

Sky Sports

Seen it, done it

BT Sport's backing of SeenIt comes from BT's Infinity Lab competition, where a Dragon's Den-style panel picked the winners out of entries encouraged to aid TV viewers' experiences of sport through technology.

The winning entry allowed users of the mobile app to upload their instant reactions to live sport, delivering the idea as something for BT Sport to embed into its coverage of live events throughout its coverage.

"I loved the pitch from SeenIt," said BT Sport presenter, Jake Humphrey. "User Generated Content is not a fad, or a short-lived trend, it's an integral part of broadcasting live events in the future, and this relationship with BT Sport really does put the viewers at the heart of our content."

SeenIt now gets six months of support from BT's research and innovation teams.

This could present a brave new world for live sports broadcasting in the UK, bringing the fans more into the actual broadcast than ever before. Of course it could just end up being a forum for a whole host of gurning sports fans being plastered all over our TVs whether we want them there or not.

And we pity the poor quality control folk having to vet each individual submission from those apps before they're allowed on air...