Sports & Digital


Sports consulting newsletter #3 - Sports and digital

April 2019

Technology has established its presence in nearly every business sector, and the sports industry is no exception.

Wearable devices

According to a study conducted by Gartner, in 2018 there were around 180 million shipments of wearable devices, with an expected increase of 25 percent forecast for 2019, bringing the total number of shipments to 225 million by the end of the year. The end-user expenditures are also expected to grow from 32 to 42 billion in 2019.

Wearables help all types of sportsmen improve their performance – both amateur and professionals.

In football for instance, a wide range of wearables are being used. The APEX Athlete Series is worn in a vest between the shoulder blades, allowing amateur players to track their personal performance during training and matches, such as speed, fatigue, injury risk, etc.

Examples of wearable technology can also be found in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, such as the referee's watch, supplied by Hublot. Its commercial version can provide all the information needed on matches, while the referee’s version is additionally equipped with the “goal line technology”, capable of confirming within a few seconds if the ball has crossed the line or not.

Digital technology is widely present in sports, so much so that it also touches upon the more ‘niche’ activities, such as surfing. Silicon Luxembourg, a Luxembourg Start-up magazine, recognized ByTheWave as one of the top 30 Global Start-ups of interest in 2018. This start-up sells a camera that advises surfers on the best moment to take off. Additionally, the device guides beginners through the first phases of learning how to surf.

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Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies

Digital is prevalent in sports also via cryptocurrencies and blockchain, and is welcomed into the sport industy in various ways – gambling for example. In a sector that needs to provide a service as safe as possible, the introduction of blockchain could provide full transparency in the establishment of the odds, leading to safer bets. Another relevant application would be the monitoring and traceability of match tickets, especially concerning the reselling in secondary markets. It could also lead to a clearer view of the exact demand and supply for such an event.

Cryptocurrencies are also entering the sports environment. With their capacity of acting as rewards for fans, cryptocurrencies can allow a better use of social media or wider content distribution. Proving its importance, Silicon Luxembourg recognized Scorum in the above mentioned list of top 30 start-ups. As a sports media website powered by blockchain, Scorum allows anyone within its community to create, upload or manage photos, posts or comments, and to be rewarded through cryptocurrencies.

Technology in the Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020

Technology is increasingly touching upon sports infrastructure in a wider sense, enabling a smarter stadium experience for fans of all types of sports. Innovative technology will soon reach its podium at the biggest arena of sports performance, the Olympics. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games want to be remembered as the most innovative Games in history. Innovation will mainly concern new facilities that are going to enhance security and comfort of the participants. The Games will for example provide new technologies such as a face recognition system to identify more than 300 thousand faces among staff, athletes, media etc. This will allow a safer environment and faster security controls, reducing time lost. Spectators – who cannot benefit from the face recognizion system – will instead benefit from a card functioning both as credit card and as valid ID to enter the different open and private areas, depending on rights.

To increase comfort, an instant translator app will also be provided, translating Japanese into 27 different languages.
These innovative smart opportunities will however add up to an already inherent need for internet access and connection for all expected smartphones. To support this increased need, Nokia and DoCoMo are collaborating to create a 5G wireless network that is going to be six times faster than the actual 4G connection. These are only a few of the things that Tokyo wants to introduce at its event, and that will undoubtedly bring the Olympic experience to the next level.

Just half of the story

This is only half of the story: digital is clearly revolutionizing the sports experience and will continue to do so. We’ve looked at how digital can impact on the athlete’s performance (wearables) to the fan experience (blockchain, cryptocurrencies and connected stadia), but digital will influence many other aspects linked to sports such as club management, which can be made easier and more efficient through AI. Ultimately, the race to the next level can only be won in a joint effort of sports initiatives and digital innovation.


Vincent Gouverneur
Partner – EMEA Investment 
Management Leader
Tel : +352 45145 2451

Giulia Bruni Roccia
Manager – Operations Excellence & Human Capital
Tel : +352 45145 3220

Jordan Cattaruzza
Consultant – Operations Excellence & Human Capital
Tel : +352 45145 3542

Eleonore Moreau Gentien
Analyst – Operations Excellence & 
Human Capital
Tel : +352 45145 3561

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