Genius Sports - FIFA Women's World Cup 2023

Evolving Fan Engagement Experiences: An interview with Paul Hunt of Genius Sports.

· by World Football Summit

In an exclusive conversation with WFS Digest, Paul Hunt, Sports Business Director at Genius Sports, shares details about their more recent projects in the football industry, the trends to look out for and their expectations toward the upcoming WFS Europe, where he will lead an amazing panel on the WFS stage with Giuliano Giorgetti, from FIFA.

Genius Sports helps organise, optimise and enrich fan engagement for hundreds of sports, betting, and media brands around the world. Their services have improved fan engagement experiences for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the English Premier League and more. If you recall, back in 2019 they attended World Football Summit Europe as an Exhibiting brand. Since then, the company has transformed its sports technology business by providing football leagues and clubs with a completely new generation of digital products.

In Paul’s words,

Paul Hunt - Genius Sports“Our football products and services have expanded beyond football administration and management tools into a whole new world of interactive fan engagement products. We provide everything from custom gamification solutions such as fantasy, trivia and pick ‘em games to cutting-edge tracking technology and live broadcast augmentation solutions for some of the biggest organisations in world football including FIFA and the Premier League.”

WFS: You have worked with FIFA for many years but this time they approached you asking for an innovative approach to broadcasting for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. What was the challenge they presented and how did you approach it?

Ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™, football’s global governing body appointed us to provide fans around the world with an alternative broadcast that would satisfy modern fans’ demand for rich, data-driven viewing experiences. Through host broadcaster HBS, Genius Sports was tasked (through our Second Spectrum technology) with developing a new “datatainment” concept for fans that combines player performance stats and data analytics with live action through rich graphic overlays.

From the quarter-finals onwards, we provided our unique broadcast augmentations for every game, displaying new metrics such as shot speeds, passing accuracy, sprints, and pitch maps. These graphic overlays helped bring the tournament’s key plays to life such as Olga Carmona’s winning goal in the final-although as an England fan that one still hurts to watch back!

These augmented feeds were broadcast across several international territories such as Fox Sports in the US, Optus Sports in Australia, and Cazé TV in Brazil, and were a cornerstone of FIFA’s new strategy to deliver the largest and most exciting Women’s World Cup ever.

Genius Sports - FIFA Women's World Cup 2023
Genius Sports – FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023

WFS: Could you provide us with an overview of Genius Sports’ EPL Data Zone service and its main objectives in enhancing the viewer experience during Premier League matches?

The worlds of sports, media, and betting are converging rapidly, and broadcasters and streaming giants are at the forefront of this trend to engage new audiences. According to Deloitte’s 2023 Sports Fan Insights report, the next generation of sports fans expect new features that enhance their viewing experience without disrupting their enjoyment of the live game. Live data and statistics are key elements of this new personalised viewing experience and in partnership with Premier League Productions (PLP) and Football DataCo (FDC), our Premier League Data Zone product is a testament to this new era of data-driven broadcasts.

The Premier League is the most-watched annual competition in world sport with a yearly audience of over 3 billion people from right around the world. The Premier League Data Zone provides these fans with unprecedented levels of insight and analysis, showcasing a unique L-Bar format that provides constant updates such as touches, sprints, total distance traveled, and opponents beaten alongside player names and pitch maps.

Who benefits most from EPL Data Zone? Traditional football fans? Players & Coaches? Betting and fantasy enthusiasts?

The Premier League Data Zone has primarily been built for fans who are passionate about stats, providing them with granularity on player performances, shot speeds, team analysis, and more. The Premier League Data Zone has proved to be such a success that it is in demand from broadcasters around the world including Sky Sports, ESPN Brazil, Canal+ France, and dozens more, transforming how millions of fans experience the Premier League. Future innovations will include official Fantasy Premier League integrations and updates to further appeal to younger audiences and provide the most comprehensive data-driven viewing experience.

As the official tracking partner to the English Premier League and EFL Championship through our Second Spectrum technology, we also provide rich analytics to teams and coaches across the top two tiers of UK football. From post-match analysis to training preparation, our services are used by Manchester City, Manchester United and dozens more to enhance their performance levels.

What does the future of broadcasting and enhancing the fan experience look like? ARe there any other trends that football industry professionals should know about?

Sports broadcasts will continue to accelerate the convergence of sports, media, and betting, mirroring other entertainment sectors to provide fans with an increasingly personalized viewing experience. Looking ahead, sports broadcasts will integrate multiple fan engagement touchpoints into one platform, providing fans with everything from their fantasy numbers to X (Twitter) polls, live odds and personalized merchandise offers to create an immersive and highly tailored experience.

Of course, different generations of fans expect different levels of augmentation and added content, and broadcasters and streaming companies have to strike a balance between engaging the younger generation and not alienating the traditional TV viewer. To make things more digestible, we’ve compiled the latest trends in sports viewership and what this means for the future of broadcast here.

“Sports broadcasts will continue to accelerate the convergence of sports, media, and betting, providing fans with an increasingly personalized viewing experience.”

What are your expectations as you return to this upcoming 2023 edition of World Football Summit Europe in Sevilla?

We’re super excited to be back at WFSEurope and for me and many of the team members, this will be our first time seeing the event in Sevilla. As well as our panel session on day 1 of the Summit with Giuliano Giorgetti, Head of Digital Content at FIFA to discuss our work at the Women’s World Cup and the future of sports broadcasters, we’ll also have a stand at the Expo Area to display our full range of fan engagement solutions for all levels of the world of football.

World Football Summit has a unique ability to bring together so many leadership figures from the world of football and we’re really excited to unveil our full range of solutions for everyone in attendance.

If you want to learn more about Genius Sports at WFS Europe, you’re still in time to purchase your tickets and attend their promising panel or to look them up at the event’s Expo Area!