BT Sport has commissioned research to find out the most-liked and loathed tech innovations by fans as part of our Innovate 21 project.

Innovate 21 aims to give one lucky winner the chance to work with BT and bring their game-changing sports broadcasting innovation to life.

When it came to recent innovations in sports broadcasting, two were neck-and-neck at the top of the most-liked pile: spider/drone cameras and 360° viewer-controlled cameras (both voted for by 26% of the 2,000 people polled across the UK by OnePoll).

Live streaming sport on mobiles came third with 22%, with 4K/HDR picture quality and post-match video analysis just outside the top three on 21% and 20% respectively (the fans surveyed were allowed more than one preference). 

When it came to the best-ever innovations in sports broadcasting, it was very much a three-horse race, with instant replays (33%) just pipping the ability to rewind live TV (32%) and slow-motion replays (31%) to the post.

Trailing in their wake were on-screen time/score graphics (16%) and the use of spider/drone cameras, 4K pictures and 360° cameras (14%).

Fans felt that the best innovation by athletes, teams or sports authorities was the use of goalline technology (32%), which is perhaps unsurprising as 49% of fans believed football was the best sport at utilising technology to enhance the viewing experience.

Similar technologies came in at second and third, with Hawk-Eye – most commonly used in tennis and cricket - receiving 27% of the vote and horse racing’s photo finish technology polling third with 26%.

Prosthetic devices for disabled athletes came in at 24%, while the use of under-soil heating garnered 23%.

On the topic of the worst tech innovations by athletes, teams and sports authorities, one innovation stood held and shoulders above the rest – VAR.

With the Premier League’s global reach and visibility no doubt a major factor in its unpopularity, VAR received 31% of ‘first-preference’ votes, a mammoth 15 percentage points ahead of competitive eSports, which includes games like League of Legends and Fortnite Battle Royale.

Fantasy football apps, including the one run by the Premier League, came third on the most-disliked list at 14%, while cavity back irons that are more forgiving on mishit golf shots came in at 10% and voice-activated assistants polled at 8%.

More generally, 76% of fans believe that tech enhances the sports TV viewing experience, while 74% think that technology has made sport more accessible to a larger audience.

More than six in ten feel tech has made watching sport a more sociable experience. More than half of people polled (53%) regularly watch sport on a PC or laptop, while 41% regularly watch sport on their smartphones.

Jamie Hindhaugh, chief operating officer, BT Sport, said: “There have been many impressive tech developments in the worlds of sport and broadcasting, and this research has highlighted the importance of tech for sports viewers.

“Sport and sports broadcasting do not stand still though, and we are committed to remaining at the forefront of innovation.

"This is why we’ve launched Innovate 21 to create the opportunity for someone to make a game-changing mark on the world of sport broadcasting.”

By entering Innovate 21, you could be responsible for the latest in a long line of BT Sport innovations. 

BT Sport was the first broadcaster to show live content in 4K and UHD in 2015 and the first to adopt Dolby Atmos in 2016.

BT Sport has also embraced social media, being the first to show the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League finals on YouTube and showing content such as BT Sport Score live for free on Twitter and Facebook. 

In 2018, BT Sport and EE successfully carried out the world’s first live broadcast over 5G using remote production, delivering a two-way transmission from Wembley Stadium to London’s ExCeL exhibition centre.

The following year, BT Sport collaborated with BT’s Media & Broadcast arm to broadcast the world’s first live 8K test broadcast into the IBC exhibition in Amsterdam.

And last October, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, BT Sport and EE teamed up to launch Matchday Experience on the BT Sport App, offering fans the most immersive sports viewing experience anywhere in the UK, powered by EE’s number one 5G network.

Features include Watch Together – the only service in the UK allowing fans to watch, see and chat with three other friends alongside any BT Sport broadcast thanks to a split-screen interface. 

More details on how to enter are available at bt.com/innovate21. Good luck!