What do Chatbots offer and where do they belong in the world of sport?

Back in August, we spoke about chatbots being the future of fan engagement. Fast forward 2 months and we find ourselves asking questions on whether chatbots will be the go-to hub for news consumption for sports fans.

How developed are chatbot now, and what are the currently offering to the sports industry? Well, not a lot. After so much promise back in the summer, we still don’t know the full potential of chatbots, because there is yet to be a benchmark that everyone can strive towards.

Various sports organisations have experimented with AI technology and chatbots, take the NBA for example, but no one is yet to hit the nail on the head when executing the service to its audience.

Digital sports company, theScore, is still optimistic that chatbots and artificial intelligence communications can still be integrated into the sports conversation.

The bots itself provide a channel with less friction and also lend us an opportunity to deliver sports information to the more casual sports fan Riaz Lalani, Vice President of Product at theScore

Chatbots could be a great source of information, they could allow fans to stay up-to-date on the latest news with their professional sports team, but it will depend on how you execute and upsell the service. How do you get a fan to head to Facebook Messenger and consume news instead of going to a social media platform such as Twitter and consuming it that way? That’s the challenge.


For now, we see the opportunity for sporting organisations to use chatbots to send messages and alerts for upcoming games, sell tickets to fans, and to take fan interaction to another level. By doing so, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg Facebook vision will begin to be put into fruition. “We think you should message a business just the way you would message a friend.” What easier way could you ask for tickets than asking your friend (chatbot) to see if there are any available for this weekend’s game?

Due to the limited number of chatbot examples, there is still no way of knowing how to execute them to full effect. We know the audience is there, over 4.5 billion use messenger apps globally, and let’s face it, we’re forever checking our phones to see if we have a message or not.

Chatbots will always compete with other ways fans can follow their favourite sports teams, including social media, team applications, and other traditional means. So how, if even, will teams, leagues, and other media entities use chatbots to enhance the fan experience?

Will there be a distinct differentiator or will it be just as easy to follow teams on social media? 2017 will be the determining year whether chatbots catch on and become an attractable communication feature.

But we at WePlay are always looking at ways to engage sports audiences and enhance their experience through the use of different techniques. If you have any queries or would like to find out more, take a look at our case studies, or get in touch