Goals on demand: Why we'll get an Uber for sports in 2017

 
James Kirkham
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Football smartphone uber for sport
"If it sounds quite minority report, that's because it is" (Source: Getty)

We’ve all been spoilt by Uber, admit it. We now expect to get whatever we want from the touch of a button. Not several clicks, but one single touch.

With fingerprints unlocking screens and the rise of voice control like Siri, even that touch will soon be one too much and next year, instant gratification will be more sought after than ever.

We now need everything in life immediately, urgently, right here and right now. So it might come as no surprise that Uberfication will even influence the way something like sport gets consumed by us lot; the overly-demanding Generation Diva.

The signs are already there, so you don’t need a great leap of imagination to see how things will evolve in the next 12 months.

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It is through messaging platforms on your mobile where we’re basically living our lives right now. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger already feel like home, but will increasingly be a home which we won’t ever want to leave. Just as Chinese millennials live an conduct an increasing amount of their life's work on messaging service WeChat — from buying a pizza or donating to charity — gradually this mentality is something we will latch onto as well.

If we take Facebook Messenger alone, this is already used for so much more than mates sharing funny videos online.


Bots will soon be able to satisfy our sporting desires on demand (Source: Getty)

Clever bots (effectively lines of smart programmers’ code which respond immediately to what we write in the messenger window) will react and act upon our every word. And it is through these here bots where a generation weaned on Uber will find their every wish gets granted. Like a pocket genie.

And this is my prediction; That sports will be the most exciting mover and shaker in this new era.

Sports is — or perhaps more accurately, was — the last bastion of the old world, not previously disrupted in the same way the music industry has been. Yet now we’re watching an incredible seismic shift in the way fans lap up their favourite events. We watch goals as GIFs through Twitter, and have seen NFL games get live-streamed on the platform too. More people viewed one fans’ own Periscope of a football match in Scotland last year than watched the Edinburgh derby. Millions of people are now tuning into the output of American football coming out of Snapchat Spectacles, which is offering entirely different angles and perspectives direct to streams and social. Amazon are getting into sports rights, and their business is only built on speed and logistics; so this game is changing fast. The horse has nearly bolted.

Read more: Sports and second screens - How stadium designers and broadcasters are dealing with the smartphone revolution

But it is the psyche of the fan that tells us everything about how our lives will be augmented and bettered too. Fans want everything nice and easy, and it is this thirst for simplicity which is going to change everything all over again.

So next year if you’re a sports fan and mention beer on Messenger, it might be that a little branded bot will leap on board and offer up discounts on a six-pack of Stella.

Or talk about going to the game with your nearest and dearest, and Virgin Trains might pop into the chat to show you how to get to Old Trafford even quicker. Like your personal sports fan concierge service aiding your love and fuelling your passions.

We get score notifications, live updates and alerts so building this out through bots is the natural next step. If it all sounds quite Minority Report, that’s because it is. We’ve found the future and it feels neat and clever. This is an era where utility wins and it is being driven by our own Uber upbringing.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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