The media- and entertainment industry har provided the bedrock upon which the sports industry has experienced decades of growth. The main outlook for the sports industry, at least in the hopefully near, post-pandemic future, is still one of growth. Meanwhile, there is no doubt in my mind that the core business model of the sports industry will come under increased pressure.
Every year, Nielsen Sports investigates and predicts how the sports industry will unfold in the near future. In their “2020 Commercial Trends Overview”, they highlight some key trends that I think is worth mulling over. There is a couple of trends I find especially relevant and interesting.
Firstly, the competition for consumers attention is getting more and more fierce. There is no doubt, that the Weapons of Mass Communications (the "WMC´s") in the arsenal of brands are getting more fragmented and also more digital. The time when everyone watched the same game of soccer or hockey on the same televisions, and a strategically placed logo on the jersey generated great brand preference and sales, is gone. Even though live sports broadcast gathers large amounts of viewers, the last reports show that the audience grows more in age than in numbers. The younger demographics has found new and digital ways to consume sports- and entertainment.
In the attention economy, as sport competes not just against itself but all forms of entertainment, the adoption of new content, media and technologies is key to capturing and retaining a consumer’s focus on sport.
What does this mean for brands and rights-holders? For the rights holders, it would mean they should focus on creating new digital assets and experiences that engages the audience and attracts advertisers. For brands it means focusing a bit less on placing their logo on shirts and signs, and focus some more on investing in sponsorship activation.
Get in the conversations
Secondly, the battle for attention and digital fans, puts focus on direct to consumer offerings. The explosion of direct-to-consumer offerings is shaking up the sports content industry, offering greater choice and personalization than ever before and forcing any organisation which carries or produces sports content to evolve rapidly.
The game of sports sponsorship evolving rapidly. The game is getting less about winning transactional relationships based on association and brand visibility, and more about creating more multi-faceted and symbiotic partnerships between brands and rights-holders covering a wider range of (preferably digital) assets.
The game is not up.
The game is on.