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50% of Sports Fans Believe AI Will Enhance Their Experience, IBM Survey Reveals

A global survey conducted by IBM has revealed that half of sports fans believe artificial intelligence (AI) will enhance their sporting experience. The survey, which polled over 18,000 sports fans across ten countries, highlights the growing preference for personalization and diverse content on digital platforms. The study’s findings were released  ahead of IBM’s announcement of a new feature for the Wimbledon digital experience. This feature will use match data and generative AI from IBM’s AI and data platform, Watsonx, to keep fans updated on the progress of the world’s leading players throughout The Championships.

AI is set to revolutionize many aspects of sports, including officiating, performance analytics, recruitment, marketing, fan engagement, and content creation. The advent of generative AI (Gen AI) technologies is particularly exciting, offering significant potential for innovation.

Despite live linear television and streaming services being the primary consumption channels for 64% of fans, mobile devices and digital platforms are gaining popularity, especially among younger audiences. This shift is changing consumption habits, with many fans now preferring short-form content tailored to their individual interests rather than the traditional one-size-fits-all feed provided by broadcasters, rights holders, and publishers.

Automated, personalized content is one of the most advanced early applications of Gen AI technology, explaining the widespread support for AI across multiple demographics. While 50% of respondents across all age groups support AI in sports, this figure rises to 58% among those aged 18 to 29. Younger fans are also twice as likely to use smartphones or tablets to watch sporting events and are more inclined to use multiple devices simultaneously.

The survey found that 56% of respondents use social media for additional content, with 64% of these fans watching video highlights and 48% consuming post-match recaps or analysis. A third of fans prioritize summarized content, while 26% favor personalized content.

IBM’s findings suggest that rights holders and broadcasters who can offer these capabilities will reap significant rewards, with 41% of respondents watching highlights or summaries weekly and 24% doing so daily.

"Fans worldwide are continuing to embrace platforms and solutions that allow them to feel more connected and informed about their favorite sporting events and athletes," said Noah Syken, IBM Vice President of Sports and Entertainment Partnerships. "IBM’s new study confirms this now includes embracing technologies like AI to deliver these experiences. IBM’s longstanding portfolio of sports and entertainment partnerships aims to meet these expectations by equipping our partners with the most advanced technologies from our AI and data platform, Watsonx."


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