If you’re in the sports industry, you need to be aware of its trends to innovate and find new competitive edges. As technology evolves, what once worked in sports marketing won’t continue to work. Expectations from fans are changing alongside technological advancements. A few decades ago, you would rarely see anyone on his/her mobile phone at a live game. Today, you’ll have no trouble spotting people who check their cell phones at the game. Although they’re usually just checking their social media feeds for what others are saying about the game, it’s still an important change in the sports industry. Here are the top five sports trends in 2016 to keep up with:
Virtual reality is estimated to bring in billions of dollars around the world, and sports companies have already stuck their foot in the door. The NBA broadcasted their 2015-2016 kickoff live with VR options enabled. Anyone who owned a virtual reality headset was able to watch the kickoff in 360 degrees. VR is not only being used for fans but the athletes too. Football teams, including those at the college level, have started using virtual reality tools to train while not on the field. College programs use VR as a recruiting tool to give tours of the campus without requiring the applicant to travel.
Fan engagement has always been a crucial aspect of sports. Without excited fans, there’s no business. This factor, however, has evolved this year in alignment with technological advancements. Fans want to stay connected with their favorite teams in real time. They crave to be as close to their athletes as possible. Social media opened the way for increased engagement between athletes and fans in real time. Sports teams host live Google Hangouts and broadcast on other live streaming sites like Periscope to further connect with fans in real time.
Fan engagement continues to deepen in 2016. NASCAR, for instance, offers a “digital cockpit” for fans to interact with their favorite drivers during the race. Another example is Foxtel’s Alert Shirt, which creates the sensations athletes experience during games for fans. Fans can now literally feel the impact of a tackle.
Esportsearnings.com reported that more than $64 million in prize money was awarded in 2015. ESports is a viable career choice and college major. Some colleges even offer scholarships to the top players in eSports. Examples of two universities that give eSports scholarships are Robert Morris University in Chicago and University of Pikeville in Kentucky. Several television networks cover eSports as well, such as TBS and Disney.
Betting real money on sports outcomes is another major trend that businesses need to know. If you plan on getting involved in sports betting, check your state laws first. Some states allow sports betting, whereas others have strict regulations around it. Sports gambling isn’t a new concept, but it’s increased in popularity thanks to the creation of sports betting sites. These online platforms make it easy and convenient for gamblers to place bets on which team they think will win.
Female Target Market
Last, but not least, females are making a larger impact in sports as well. The female audience for sports has grown and more female athletes are being recognized for their talent and performance. Serena Williams won the Sportsperson of the Year, an award previously titled Sportsman of the Year, from Sports Illustrated this year. Yahoo’s list of most searched athletes for 2015 consisted mostly of women. In addition, the Woman’s World Cup Soccer took the #1 spot for most watched soccer event on television in the United States. Females are finding their place in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Virtual reality, fan engagement, eSports, sports gambling, and female target markets are five of the biggest sports trends in 2016 that businesses need to know. Contemplate and brainstorm on these trends to develop innovative ideas for your sports brand. Remember to not only incorporate what’s popular and rising in popularity right now, but predict what’s next based on these trends.Comments »