AR graphics and mobile viewing key to engaging younger audiences, Vizrt study notes

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In a world where the digital revolution continues to influence all aspects of life, sports viewership and broadcasting are not exempted. A recent study commissioned by Vizrt, the leader in real-time graphics and live production solutions, has highlighted the crucial role of augmented reality graphics, sports analysis tools, and replay in engaging younger audiences.

Surveying thousands of content consumers and sports fans in the UK and US, the study found that a significant 70% of respondents agree that 3D, AR graphics and sports analysis tools enhance their game-watching experience. This finding is a clear testament to the changing landscape of sports consumption, particularly among the younger generation.

Even though television remains the top choice for watching sports content among 76% of respondents, the preference takes a sharp turn when demographics are considered.

Over 67% of Gen Z (those born in the late 1990s to early 2000s) prefer consuming sports content on their mobile devices while on the go, surpassing 54% of millennials and 23% of Gen X. The Gen Z demographic mainly showed a preference for mobile viewing, with 37% accessing all their content via mobile devices due to factors such as accessibility (54%), convenience (46%), and the ability to multitask (43%).

But the shift towards mobile consumption isn’t limited to Gen Z. 30% of all respondents reported watching sports on their mobile phones, regardless of demographic. The preference for digital channels is escalating, with almost 60% of all respondents and 74% of Gen Z admitting to using social media to catch up on sports.

Full-game viewing experiences are becoming less common, with younger generations preferring highlights and catch-up options. This shift underlines the need for shorter, more condensed content. Even though live viewing is the preferred method of consuming sports for many, full matches and games are being watched less often.

Andy O’Neil, head of sports (EMEA and APAC) at Vizrt, emphasized the importance of adapting to these changing viewing habits.

“The results of our Viewer Engagement Survey emphasize the importance of adapting content for the younger generation’s viewing habits. Millennials and Gen Z desire shorter, engaging content that they can consume on the go. They expect augmented reality (AR) graphics, real-time data, and exciting analysis to enhance their immersion in the game, and any broadcaster not considering these elements within their content is already falling behind,” O’Neil said.

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The shift in sports fan habits has brought forth new ways to engage viewers for longer durations. About 79% of surveyed sports fans reported being more interested in sports content and likelier to watch a broadcast if it included graphics and virtual elements like AR graphics, virtual studios, and data analysis and replay. Virtual sets in sports commentary enhance the viewing experience for 65% of millennials.

Interestingly, 57% of viewers were more likely to watch content for longer if virtual elements were used, with this number rising to 63% for Gen Z respondents. Also, 29% of those surveyed agreed that graphics and virtual elements added to a sports broadcast would make them more likely to watch that broadcaster’s coverage in the future.

“The data that came back on the importance of an immersive experience using additional graphics for audiences was astonishing. Its clear advanced visuals and graphics are vital for capturing the attention of younger viewers and enhancing their engagement. As a trusted partner and provider, we are here to help ensure we support anyone looking to maximize their viewer engagement and make the most of their sports productions,” said O’Neil.

This study is a telling reminder that the future of sports consumption is indeed digital and immersive. The transformational role of advanced graphics and interactive elements can no longer be overlooked, as they are instrumental in capturing and retaining the younger generation’s attention.

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