Sportel Monaco, LALIGA, NBA, WSC Sports

SPORTEL 2023: Transforming Fan Experiences with AI – Current and Future Possibilities

The sports media landscape is undergoing a significant transformation. Today’s audiences seek sports content tailored to their viewing habits and accessible on-demand, whenever and wherever they want.

Recently, the clear trend is towards short-form, vertical content, with mobile devices increasingly becoming the preferred choice for younger viewers when watching live sports.

Recognizing this shift, WSC Sports’ Co-founder and CBDO, Aviv Arnon, came together with LALIGA’s Director of Digital Strategy, Alfredo Bermejo, and the NBA’s Vice President of Global Media Distribution, Bastien Lacheny at the Sportel Conference in Monaco on October 24th, 2023 to discuss the impact of vertical content and in-app stories on the league’s content strategies.

The Rise of NBA In-App Stories

Since launching its official mobile app last season, the National Basketball Association has positioned vertical content and in-app stories at the heart of its digital strategy. Moving beyond traditional post-game highlights, the NBA now offers 15 to 18 bite-sized stories per game, giving fans a fresh and dynamic viewing experience.

According to Bastien, in the span of a year, the NBA app’s engagement tripled while stories became the platform’s most popular content format, showcasing an astounding 700% surge in in-app video consumption.

“The growth doesn’t mean we’ve tripled the volume of content in the app. Rather, it indicates we’re doing a better job helping fans discover content,” he said. “The discoverability and usability of the app has improved significantly, thanks in large part to the vertical, short-form content.”

Capitalizing on this success, the league used stories to further promote other content on the app, boosting overall user engagement across all content.

The Rebirth of the LALIGA App

Similar to the NBA, The LALIGA team wanted to bring a completely new experience to excel beyond what fans were engaging with outside their owned and operated platforms. Previously, the LALIGA app was focused on results, calendars, and stats – generating a decent number of sessions but low time spent per user. It didn’t offer the full 360-degree experience fans wanted in terms of information and entertainment.

“We invested a lot in the last years to better know our fans, what they like, and what they want to consume,” said Alfredo. “We wanted to have a product that helped us to properly serve them the content they wanted, in the formats they wanted.”

In-app stories were a big piece of this puzzle.

LALIGA’s new app for the 2023/24 season

Drawing on years of expertise and audience insights, the league now consistently creates stories throughout the season, not just on match days. This decision to serve around-the-clock content has deeply resonated with fans, delivering an overwhelmingly positive response for LALIGA.

Alfredo shared that within just four months, the platform witnessed a 70% rise in user sessions and a 40% increase in time spent, with a notable uptick in video consumption. By utilizing in-app stories, LALIGA has been able to showcase a wide range of skills, players, and teams, driving content consumption beyond just the top clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona. This expanded reach has empowered LALIGA to engage a broader fanbase and highlight the impressive depth of talent across the league.

Supercharging Content with Generative AI

As both the NBA and LALIGA look to continue to bolster their content strategies, Alfredo and Bastien showed specific excitement around the potential to leverage generative AI for unprecedented personalization and efficiency.

Following years of initial AI investment, LALIGA and the NBA continue to explore generative AI’s untapped potential. According to Alfredo, LALIGA is focused on using Gen AI to create sponsor-specific images, while Bastien revealed that the NBA has already been experimenting with “Ask NBA’ chatbots and AI-generated commentary in different languages.

While these use cases are not ready for mainstream consumption, they are poised to present fans with an unprecedented level of immersive and interactive experiences. However, amidst the excitement, both leagues stressed the need to carefully manage their intellectual property as they push new AI frontiers.

Ultimately, their achievements underscore the power of aligning technology with fan passion. When leagues understand the content fans truly crave, and provide that exactly where, when, and how they want to view it, the possibilities are truly limitless. But realizing this potential requires focus, strategic vision, and partnerships with those who grasp the intersection of sports, media, and technology.

To learn more about how the NBA and LALIGA are transforming their content strategies with AI, watch the full video here.