The world today stands at a crossroads due to COVID-19. The sports industry, too, is grappling with questions regarding the future of various sporting events across the world. There is no clarity about when the crisis will be over but sports will never be the same.
While the current crisis has severely impacted the sports community, it can still strive to get back on track. Here are a few key trends emerging in this field.
Athletes going online
Earlier, fans depended on news outlets for a glimpse of the lives of the star sportspeople. But now, athletes have themselves have started to interact with sports enthusiasts and fans through online challenges, discussions, Q/A sessions. The sudden spike in Instagram Live sessions with sportspeople shows that personalised fan engagement is set to become the norm.
E-sports and sports sponsorships
Some sports companies have started to transform their games into virtual ones. For instance, MotoGP has begun to broadcast their virtual races on YouTube, where users can see racers driving their bikes with game controllers.
According to the Deloitte’s 2019 Digital Media Trends Survey, the global e-sports market is expected to generate $1.5 billion in annual revenues in 2020 from an estimated worldwide audience of 600 million fans, mainly from advertising and sponsorships. As the e-sports ecosystem expands, streaming and broadcast sponsorships, including platforms such as YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming, and Mixer, will grow tremendously. New branding and sponsorship opportunities will also emerge, especially for brands that organically align with typical gaming behaviours, such as energy drinks and fitness centres.
Other opportunities include a one-stop solution for players and teams to reach larger audiences across many over-the-top (OTT) or streaming engagement channels.
Big Data and technology dominance
The high frequency of competitive events meant that and players to recover quickly.
In the last two decades, Big Data technology has been developed to provide useful information to monitor for and control internal and external factors. For example, wearable devices and video analytics are being used to collect data from players and events to help the teams strategise.
Advent of fantasy sports
Use of data analysis has been big in fantasy sports to boost their business and take significant strides with minimum resources. For example, data on user behaviour has helped brands to showcase personalised tournaments.
Engaging online content
Today, just creating a sports fantasy platform with a great user experience is not enough. Audience engagement is critical.
In 2019, Yannick Colaco, Founder of Fan Code (an ad-free sports aggregator platform by Dream 11 ), was quoted as saying, “A comprehensive multi-sports content platform that provides in-game analysis, and live match scores is the need of the hour. Sports content platforms will be driving the next wave of growth in sports consumption.”
This highlights the importance of having engaging content on online sports platforms. But what kind of ‘content’? A content bucket for an online sports platform may ideally include prediction articles, preview articles, viral content and match reports.
Therefore, sports marketing aspirants need to gear up for technology literacy, online marketing and cultural knowledge to meet the challenges create by this pandemic.
The writer is Director, Symbiosis School of Sports Sciences.