The Future of the Sports Fan
For sports fans around the world, the way you view, support, and interact with your favorite pastime is changing. Over the past century, the way fans view a game has come from a play-by-play recap on the radio to a virtual reality experience in the comfort of your own home. Technology has brought us farther than we could have ever imagined!
How will the sports world continue to grow?
There are so many possibilities, but let’s focus on just a few key elements that will comprise the future of the sports fan. For each element, we will talk about how it looks today, what it will possibly look like in the future, and questions you may want to think on if you intend to be a part of the future of the sports fan:
All Day, Every Day Fans
Today: It’s no secret that fans today have more access to sports than ever before. The reason? Technology. With smartphones, computers, tablets, and televisions, fans can receive score updates, stats, converse with fellow fans, and so much more 24/7. Oh, and this isn’t just when a favorite sport is in season. In fact, 83% of fans say they are interested in receiving content about their favorite sport and/or team even when it is the off-season. So, not only are fans wanting to access sports information 24/7 but also 365 days a year!
Future: To a sports fan, nothing is more thrilling than watching a game live. For the future sports fan, live coverage is extended with pre- and post-game commentary and coverage. Fans are already loving this feature for select games, so imagine how awesome it will be to see it more often. What about the future fans that want Sport-exclusive live content no matter when they turn on their phone or TV? Certain leagues and sports, like Major League Baseball, are already experimenting with and perfecting a 24/7, 365 live feed exclusively for subscribers (MLB.tv). Soon, fans will be subscribing to a channel of their favorite sport and accessing it no matter where they are in the world and whatever time of day it is.
Consider This: What content will make you stand out and above your competition? What programs can you offer fans in between live games?
Viewing Experiences for Fans
Today: In the past, sports viewing options were limited. You either physically attended a game, listened to it on the radio, or (more recently) watched it on your television. Now, we have the options of enormous-sized televisions, computers, smartphones, and virtual reality sets. Fans have even combined these options to simultaneously view two different angles or insights of the same game to reach a new viewing “high.” Combining media devices have become so popular that 4 out of 5 fans say they have used a smartphone to view content while watching a live game on TV.
Future: The future sports fan will have more ways to personalize their viewing experience. For example, if a program or game is available on your smartphone’s sports app but not your television, you can screencast your phone to your television. Then, you won’t have to squint your eyes just to see every detail on your phone’s tiny screen. With growing technology and partnerships between media channels and sports teams, possibilities like virtual meet-and-greets with athletes are becoming reality. The viewing experience for sports fans is changing, and it is phenomenal!
Consider This: What media devices do your fans use to watch your games? How can you bring the fans’ viewing experiences from so-so to excellent?
Today: It is an age-old issue. A tight budget doesn’t allow for non-necessities, like attending a ball game. And sometimes that tight budget is because of events that are out of your control. So, tickets to a game are pushed to a back burner until the financial situation improves. Even if a fan had some leftover funds to use for something like sports tickets, the tickets are priced way above the amount the fan must spend to purchase them. Surveys show that 3 out of 4 sports fans say they do not attend live games because of the price of tickets. So, what does the budget-conscious fan look like in the future?
Future: Sports fans will always desire to go to live games, but some may still be hesitant because of budget reasons. However, new ticketing methods are helping those fans into the stadium seats. Ticketing outlets, like StubHub, offer a place to buy tickets at prices that are lower than face-value. Another popular e-ticketing company is Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster will offer clearance and discount tickets during annual sales or special events. Being able to purchase tickets through companies like these ease the financial burden fans will be experiencing and will, in turn, promote fan growth and support as they get to attend games live!
Consider This: Are your fans being deterred from attending games due to high ticket prices? How can you appeal to the budget-conscious fans when it comes to ticket sales and team gear?
Game Changers for Fans
Today: Worldwide sports organizations, like the Olympics’ planning board, have recognized that certain sports are more appealing to older people rather than younger. So, if current fans are over 50 and there aren’t any younger fans being brought in, a sport could feasibly cease to exist when the current fans are no longer able to support it (attend games, purchase fan gear, etc.). Because of this trend, sports leagues are doing their best to appeal to younger generations. This appeal can be in the form of integrating more technology. In fact, two-thirds of younger generation sports fans think that rules and regulations should adapt to the current society norms and technology available. Keeping up with the “times” has never been more important than it is today.
Future: Since adaptability is the key to keeping sports alive and relevant, it shouldn’t be a surprise if, in the future, games become shorter and more entertaining. As technology ushers the entire world into a faster pace of day-to-day life, attention spans are shortened. In the next 25 years, you will probably see sports fans favoring events that are more jaw-dropping instead of lengthy (time-wise). Don’t be afraid to adapt to changes happening now. When you do, you appeal to those younger fans that will grow into your biggest supporters in the future.
Consider This: How can you draw in a younger generation of fans? What changes do your fans want to see you make in the future?
Fans with a Purpose
Today: More and more fans are flocking to the sides of teams and athletes that publicly (and sometimes non-publicly) support positive causes, such as charities. When fans can relate to athletes on a personal, moral level, they want to support them. One of the most recent events that illustrate this point is with the American football player Colin Kaepernick. He began a mission to bring police brutality awareness into the spotlight by taking a knee instead of standing during the playing of the national anthem. Although this sparked outrage with many who thought he was disrespecting his country, this act gained Kaepernick supporters worldwide. Then, when Nike made Kaepernick its new “face” as a show of support, sales for Nike increased by 30%. Kaepernick now has fans who never even knew his name before he first took a knee. Now, because he has a purpose that millions support, he, his teammates, and other supporting football players are overwhelmed with new fans.
Future: Whenever change can be made to better the lives of others, it is welcomed. In the future, sports fans will continue to support athletes, teams, brands, and so on if they support and work to bring about positive changes. Fans recognize the important position that sports teams occupy in society. So, they will become fans with a purpose by being there to support those teams and players that are making a difference in the lives of others.
Consider This: How can your organization support positive change in your community? What charitable organizations can you partner with so that your sales can benefit their charity?
There you have it! You now have an overview of what the future of a sports fan looks like. The bright, innovative future of the sports fan is quickly approaching. Teams, franchises, and businesses need to not only keep up with today’s fans but also create and build incredible experiences for future fans and fan engagement. Don’t delay! Begin brainstorming and putting plans into motion that will secure your spot with fans for generations to come.
Here’s another interesting post on – Why is Sports Marketing important?
We here at Gomeeki created the “FanTribe” Fan engagement platform, where fans and ‘fans-to-be’ can explore the club’s history via interactive experience for free, connecting ‘in the moment’ thrills with the great triumphs and stellar moments of the past.
FanTribe is the modern sports fan loyalty and engagement platform that helps clubs, sports team/ sports brand, and leagues to effectively deliver personalised experiences via relationship marketing strategy that drives actionable insights and profitable growth.
FanTribe takes fan and community engagement to a whole new level while enabling a marketplace that opens new commercial models and opportunities. Drive measurable ROI and create a brand experience your future customers will love.
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