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Article16 Jun 2023

How AI Is Turbocharging Sports Tech

A recent report from Citi Global Insights looks at how artificial intelligence is turbo-charging sports tech across a range is use cases.

Apple’s Mixed Reality headset Vision Pro was launched amid much fanfare at the Worldwide Developer Conference recently.

Billed as the most advanced electronic product ever, the idea is that it could serve as the key to unlock the ultimate metaverse experience.

Global AI in Sports Market TAMs (in $bns)

Source: See Chart

Immersing sports fans in the virtual environment bringing a social interaction element into remote sports spectatingis considered by many to be one of the most exciting potential use cases for the metaverse.

But a truly immersive experience is only achievable with the optimal blend of hardware and software. Innovation in generative AI is opening up new possibilities and can help automate 3D content in the world of sport. Products like Vision Pro + AI could take fan engagement experience in the sports space to a new level.

In particular, AI is playing a growing role in the hundred-billion-dollar sports betting market, informing betting decision making with its analytical and predictive capacity.

AI can take data to the extreme and automatically analyse relevant data in real time down to the most granular level. In recent years, capital participation from CAWs (Computer Assisted Wagerers) has increased to as much as one-third of the nationwide pool.

Analytical AI can even be used to run simulations to map out how different defence strategies in a specific game would play out and thus help determine the optimal defence and counter attack strategy.

A research team from MIT has successfully reduced the probability of the opponent team scoring by 40% in a real football game thanks to unparalleled simulation capability of AI.

In addition, CGI  analysed technological innovations in the sports industry (VR, AI, Wearables) from the past 3 years leveraging our proprietary thematic pipeline, the Thematic Basket Incubator.

AI Applications in Sports

© 2023 Citigroup Inc. No redistribution without Citigroup’s written permission.

Source: Citi Global Insights


CGI identified 2,569 patents from 451 private companies and 118 public companies related to sports tech. We found that AI has shown the strongest momentum among all the innovation areas we looked at— 40% of its patents from the past 36 months was published in the last 12 months.

Some of the key takeaways from the report are as follows:

  • AI works as a turbo boost for other technologies that drive the sports industry (e.g., virtual reality, augmented reality, NFT and wearables) to bring out the full potential of these technologies.
  • AI can advance many aspects of the sports industry, from off-game to in-game, as well as fan engagement.
  • The team says fan engagement is where AI can add the most value. The recent development in generative AI, Large Language Models (LLMs) as well as analytical AI unlocks many new business opportunities by attracting fans to various new experiences. It can help:
    • automate AR/VR content generation with higher quality and efficiency;
    • create unique/personalized Sports NFT memorabilia for sports fans;
    • serve as chatbots to supply relevant info and improve the customer service;
    • produce sports content (new, articles, commentaries) in (near) real-time;
    • push personalized contents / targeted ads to sports fans;
  • Analytical AI is most helpful for game-related applications. It can help:
    • broaden the talent reach to scout the most suitable talents;
    • enhance training efficiency to bring out the best potential of athletes;
    • detect and predict injuries to protect the athletes and better manage the team;
    • design diet plans catering to personal training plans and nutritional needs;
    • make faster and more accurate referee decisions and alleviate human errors;
    • improve performance to make the game more competitive and exhilarating;
    • advise game strategies and tactics to increase the winning percentage.
  • As a result, AI has a huge potential in the sports industry– five-year expected CAGR is 29% according to the five independent sources we gathered together, ranking 11th out of the 100 themes we covered in our recently updated Mapping Innovation report.

For more information on this subject, please see Future of Sports - AI: The Tech Turbo if you are a Velocity subscriber. 

Citi Global Insights (CGI) is Citi’s premier non-independent thought leadership curation. It is not investment research; however, it may contain thematic content previously expressed in an Independent Research report. For the full CGI disclosure, click here.




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