Survey: 79% kids want new technologies in sports coverage









November 8, 2023

Whilst VAR continues to cause havoc in the Premier League, almost eight in 10 children (79 %) would be excited to see a new technology added to a sport they watch, according to research from Virgin Media O2.

The most popular technological developments children want to see include smart balls with built in sensors (31 %), cameras in footballs (31 %), and virtual reality headsets for fans to see sport through the eyes of their favourite player (27 %).

Some of the more creative innovations suggested to improve sports include devices that fix broken bones, flying cars, robot players, and even invisibility cloaks. Despite the current controversy surrounding the use of VAR in football, almost a quarter of children (23 per cent) want to go even further and introduce robot referees.

The research finds that introducing technology to sport would make it more popular among children, with 25 per cent saying they would watch more sports and 24 per cent more likely to play. The sports that would see the biggest uptick in players include football (33 per cent), swimming (15  %), and tennis (13  %), whilst football (37 %), athletics (15 %), and basketball (13  %) would win more spectators.

Beyond traditional sports, esports are fast becoming popular amongst children; 30 per cent of those surveyed said they have watched eSports and 35 per cent have played esports themselves. FIFA was the game of choice for 57 % of young people, followed by Fortnite (51 %) and Call of Duty (43 %).

Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2 added: “For many years, sport has played a vital role in the health, happiness and development of children across the UK. Today’s children are growing up in the digital world, so it is no surprise to see such an appetite for technological innovations in traditional sports. Incorporating the latest technology can help ensure sports remain popular for many years to come. Whatever the future brings, it’s clear that connectivity will be crucial in underpinning new technologies and innovations. With our 5G rollout progressing at pace, we are excited to support this next wave of innovation and support technology to reinvent sports in the future.”

Top 15 most wanted tech developments in sports (voted by kids):

  • Smart balls with built in sensors
  • Cameras in footballs
  • Virtual reality headsets for fans so they can see sport through eyes of their favourite player
  • Eco-friendly sports stadiums
  • Injury prevention technology so players don’t get injured
  • Robot referees
  • Advanced safety technology to let coaches know if players are injured
  • Virtual fan interactions which let viewers speak to players
  • Underwater racing cars
  • Exoskeleton suits to make players stronger
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) sports commentary
  • Swimsuits which have motors on them
  • Trampolines in basketball
  • Teleportation on golf courses to make the game quicker
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) coaches