You actually don’t need to be especially far-sighted to guess that our collective consumption of what happens in Brazil in a few months’ time will be marked by more possibilities than ever to interact with it – using more devices than ever to do so. This means that – in spite of the coming togetherness that sport engineers, as we will see in all the fan parks and public screenings of live games this summer; in spite of the spasmodic sense of patriotism that sport stirs, as we’ll see in the ubiquity of St George paraphernalia until England are knocked out – the long-term shift in our connection with sport is personal as much as it is collective.
Even if we all shout at the same telly, it’s the second screens we all possess that are increasingly taking our eye off the ball. We might all have to listen to Andy Townsend, but it is the abundantly more informed view of ordinary people that we want to connect with as the action unfolds and our involvement peaks.
How far this customisation of sport goes could be one of the key societal trends of this century. One of the defining conventions of mass entertainment is that the camera angle doesn’t really change. Yes, you can use technology to exclusively track the movements of the Brazilian left-back, but, apart from his close family, it’s hard to imagine there’s a big audience for side-takes on games – at least during live play.
The long-term shift in our connection with sport is personal as much as it is collective
And even if there is an eventual collision between wearable technology and broadcasting capabilities, enabling camera actions from within the field of play (like the helmet view of Formula One), it seems far-fetched that we will be viewing the 2046 World Cup final any differently from the one we will view in July.
Of course, beneath the surface of broadcasting, much is changing. Technology is driving greater control towards the consumer (in this case, the fan), enabling a type of peer-to-peer transmission system to accompany their consumption habits wherever they are at any moment in time. This is something that the smartest digital marketers recognise – witness the amount of socially driven content that is now "curated" and driven directly from sporting arenas.
My bet is that this is tip-of-the-iceberg stuff. As a founder of a new fan network, I would say that. Yet, long term, it seems there will be a new type of crowd-control issue in sport, especially when the governance standards of sporting bodies become sufficiently intolerable to demand action. And the technology we all possess enables us to deliver the charge.
John Owrid is the chairman of Sporting Mouth