Fantasy football gets real – French soccer moves the goal posts for total sports experience

Growing up in the 1980s, sports was part of everyday life. After school we used to race to the football pitch. And in the winters we’d head out skating and skiing until our toes went numb from the cold. Endless arguments on who shot the hardest, who skied the fastest, or jumped the longest. It’s quite a different world my kids grow up in today, with modern technology to measure every aspect of their achievements. They just put the phone in their pocket or watch on their wrist when they head out and when they are done they can read everything from verticals travelled, distance covered, and maximum speed. Then they can go on and share it all with their friends. Technology has sure made these experiences even cooler and richer.

Being a sports and outdoors guy, it was a dream come true when Mr. Bergström, then Vice President Strategy and Marketing & Communications in Global Services, called me up and said “I’m moving to Hong Kong and I want you to replace me and lead Ericsson’s engagement for the upcoming world skiing championships.” Cut to Falun, Sweden in February 2015 – 280,000 visiting fans cheering on-site and another 500 million TV viewers following the races across the globe. The Ericsson Networked Event solution made a killer premiere, delivering a digital experience never seen before during the FIS 2015 Nordic Skiing World Championships.

It was downloaded by fans in 163 countries. Flawless operations, some world firsts – including mashing a 3D gaming environment with live TV feeds (together with our partner Tension Graphics) –and a patent for data caching. We were off to a great start and began to dream bigger. Since 2015 we’ve passionately tuned and developed, refining every aspect. We’ve been across multiple stadiums and sports such as tennis, handball, and ice hockey. Now we’re ready to take on the world’s largest sport – football (or soccer, if you insist!).

Our team is super thrilled to announce that Ericsson has signed a partnership agreement with French football club Paris Saint-Germain. Under the terms of this four-year agreement, Ericsson will provide Paris Saint-Germain with a range of solutions and services that will transform the digital experience for fans, players, and support staff alike. A couple of examples of what we will deliver include:

  • digital experience backend system – to provide fans with a world class experience in the stadium and across apps, website and social media.
  • sports performance information system – to help coaches, doctors, scouts and other PSG staff make fact based decisions and projections.

These projects are the starting point of a broader engagement around ICT transformation leveraging Ericsson capabilities in IoT and Cloud. Together with Paris Saint-Germain’s staff, Ericsson will ensure that the most successful club in French football is also the most technologically advanced. This partnership clearly illustrates how Ericsson drives digital transformation across industries.

In the Networked Society of today, the ability to watch a sporting event has come a long way since the ancients held their competitions in places that, while sacred, were little more than open fields. Through modern architecture, technology, the streaming capabilities of today’s networks, and the ability to share, thousands of people can attend an event live, and with the rights for distribution, anyone can watch it.

Fast forward 50 years into the future, given how quickly technology is merging with sports, just imagine how immersive the experience will be for fans. Will we see exactly what the player sees? Experience our favorite athlete’s heartbeat in real time? Sweat with them, breath hard when they run? OK, maybe I don’t want to fully experience being brought down by a red card tackle, but flying with the ball, past the keeper’s glove and straight into the back of the net… I think I could go for that.

 

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This is guest post by Mikael Sundström.


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