In 2016, PwC concluded in their first survey on sport, that “the future of sport is being defined by how aptly sports leaders are able to use technology”. More specifically, 86% of the participants surveyed and representing International Olympic federations believed that “leveraging new technologies represents the most significant change to their business models”. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the sport industry has become highly disrupted due to technologies that allow sports to be marketed in new ways.

In sport, traditional business models rely on people flocking physically to stadiums for intense emotional moments, not to mention significant supplies of food and beverage. During the pandemic, the incompatibility of those business models with the new reality of social distancing has become most obvious.

As a result, traditional sports need to find new ways of building fan communities, a skill the gaming and e-sports industries have mastered with ease. Traditional sports seem to be lagging and there is still a lot of room for innovation in this area. During Tokyo 2020, the Olympic digital platforms experienced record traffic numbers, with the number of daily users doubled compared to Rio 2016. Digital platforms are the hubs where content is delivered, and communities are created. To enrich those digital platforms with content that will attract existing and new fans is THE challenge sport organisations are facing today.


Based on these observations, different questions were raised and needed to be answered:

  • Which content is interesting for fans as well as new audiences and how can we make it more attractive?
  • How to create innovative, digital content which stimulates emotions, interaction and engagement?
  • Which knowledge could be shared by other sport-related industries such as e-sports and gaming, which are already successful in engaging their online communities?


Theme Leader
Hochschule Luzern

Test phase results

The idea “All judges” was able to move forward thanks to the Verbier Xtreme in March 2022 where the EPFL+ECAL Lab, in collaboration with the Freeride World Tour, tested several ideas for new digital technologies combining sensors, 5g and signal processing and their appeal with the audience.

These potentially new solutions are aimed at connecting the public with the athletes and the environment. Feedback from the audience reveals that they are unfamiliar with the use of such technologies but that their potential is considerable in terms of enhancing the fan experience and engagement !