The way people are interacting with sports has changed drastically over the past 25 years. If we look back at the 1990’s, most sports content was centered on broadcast TV, with people gathering around the living room or going to the game itself. Radio and newspapers also played a marginal role in fan engagement.
Fast forward to present day and sports content is now spread over most digital outlets. Fans can now watch full games on demand or opt for smaller, bite-size content such is the case on Snapchat. Twitter, for instance, is broadcasting college sports around the clock, Amazon is streaming Thursday Night Football, and as of last year, the NFL, the MLS, UEFA, the World Surf League (WSL), CrossFit, and MLB have all signed a contract with Facebook, featuring all sorts of highlights, game recaps, and other similar content.
A Major Shift in Sponsorship Trends
This change from TV to digital is not negligible either. As traditional media platforms are seeing a steady decrease in revenue growth, sports sponsorship is at an all-time high. As compared to 2017, this year has seen a 4.3% increase in global sponsorship revenue, adding up to a total of $65.8 billion; $24.2 billion of which being in the US. Sports sponsorship accounts for a whopping 70%.
One other interesting development here is the increased sponsor desire for an early exit from at least one of their sponsorships. Over 58% of sponsors find themselves in this category. One explanation may be the rightsholders’ unwillingness or inability to change with the times. When asked about their priorities, sponsors placed the presence on social and mobile media, as their second most important criterion after category exclusivity. By comparison to only last year, social and mobile jumped from the sixth to the second place in sponsor-desired priority order.
The Pros and Cons
For the most tech-savvy fans, namely millennials, this steady transition from TV to digital is more than welcome. Instead of queuing behind hundreds of other fans in the hopes of getting an autograph, they now prefer to go on Twitter and engage with their favorite players digitally. With a single push of a button, teams and players can now go live from the locker room, gym, or from home and interact with their fans.
And this is just the tip of the digital iceberg. Other trends such as VR and AR technologies can ‘place’ any fan right in the middle of the stadium, or allow them to watch the game from multiple angles while having access to on-demand instant replays. Convenience, versatility, and diversity are what millennials, smartphones, and social media bring to sports content.
For the sports teams themselves, this trend can be seen as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, this diversity and room for experimentation will allow teams to be more on par with their competition and reach out to their fans in more meaningful and engaging ways. But on the other hand, however, the tangled web of social platforms, apps, and other technologies may be too much to handle.
Platforms such as Fanisko Engage can help sports teams by bringing all this bite-size content into a more easily manageable form. Instead of posting on all the different social apps in the hopes of engaging with as many fans as possible, teams can now use this one-size-fits-all platform and deliver their fans the convenience and content diversity they so much desire.
Like all meaningful changes, sports content and fan engagement are now going through a transition period where those who catch on quickly will have the most to gain.