Sports’ Digital Tipping Point
There is increasing evidence that sport is heading for a tipping point in the digital era with younger fans not participating in or following sports in the same numbers or in the same ways that the business of sport has been based on;
• Viewership on TV is ageing globally and across codes according to a study by conducted Magna Global for SportsBusiness Journal in the article Going Gray: Sports TV Viewers Skew Older
At the same time that these changes are taking place in viewership and attention, observers are identifying that the sports business industry is undergoing more transformation than any other industry;
Sport is most disrupted of all industries – Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
The following is my take on the top 5 possible causes for sport to be so disrupted;
Fan and followers have a passion and loyalty that does not naturally exist for other brands. In the digital age this represents both an advantage and a challenge since the level of personalization available from brands like Amazon, Facebook and Starbucks are also the high tide mark for teams and events in return for their fans passion. We are personally invested in our team and now expect that same of them in return.
Sport has held a sacred place in societies as something to be experienced, discussed and shared. Now other products and services that were once analogue offerings are also digitally-enabled experiences.
This movement of traditional products and services to co-created experiences places increased pressure on sports to continue being ahead of the curve compared to other attention-grabbing experiences.
Note: co-creating of the gaming experience between the publishers and gamers is a major success factor for the booming Esports industry.
Coca Cola, one of the strongest brands in the world no longer sells sugary drinks – they sell ‘Happiness’ at least they did until 2016 and now they provide us with ‘Taste the Feeling’. They are able to generate this emotion, and transcend the product, primarily by creating content and communities on digital and social media around the experience.
If a soda can sell an experience, how much more compelling does a sports experience have to be?
Venues are now technology and wi-fi enabled for fans to create their own experience whilst the modern TV experience is defined by exclusive behind-the-scenes access available to us on high definition TV’s.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality will continue to up the stakes between the live and televised experience.
The match or competition is played and consumed at a fixed time and place which is at odds to our increasingly on-demand lifestyle.
This means that sport brands need to extend their value to a 24-7 always-on offering. This is one of the reasons why social and digital media is so important on non-match day. Brands in other industries do not need to match this level of intensity (e.g., want to know how your room is being prepared for your next hotel stay? Me neither!)
Augmented Reality will also push this digital retailing agenda by mixing the real and virtual world whilst Virtual Reality will create more immersive experiences both at the game and at home.