After an incredible sporting year of 2014, with sports becoming more global than ever, we take a look at the possible trends we could be seeing this year.
Continuing on a trend of 2014, sports will continue to become more and more globally integrated, as teams start to realise the potential value of their brand. Business off the field will be just as important as performance on the field, with expansion into new and developing markets a fast-track way of increasing brand awareness.
2015 will essentially be ‘The Year of the Fan’ as the individual fan becomes more important to the teams and brands. The fans need for a ‘personalised experience’ will dominate the way a brand is presented to the fan with integrated and dynamic campaigns required to keep the fan interested, and ‘one-of-a-kind’ events increasing in order to increase fan investment, but also help the fan feel as though they have got something out of their buy-in of the brand. Changing the way a fan experiences a game will change the way a fan perceives a game, with far-reaching consequences across all levels.
Key to the fan experience includes the way a fan can stay connected at games, with a rise in Cutting Edge Sport stadium technologies such as Wi-Fi, and software-driven elements such as apps and data screens predicted across all sports. Fans want to stay connected to all aspects of their team, and they want real value from their purchases, and more and more innovative ways to increase this interaction between team and fan is essential for teams to keep their fans involved. Engagement outside of the venue will be key as well, because if the fans aren’t in the venue, they’re consuming media on the games elsewhere. Augmented reality, location-based technology, the proliferation of video and statistical information and increased social exchange will define which teams are considered leaders in their respective space. In all aspects, it’s a race to the newest technologies and development of ‘smart venues’ while building affinity with future generations of fans who don’t know life without an internet connection.
Real time connections and highlights will continue to gain precedence across the globe, with fans expecting more and more from their broadcasters, team, media and communications teams across all platforms. Social analytics will become an integral part of an organization’s outreach as they try to get ahead of the constant feedback loop available to sports teams on the web. Metrics such as sentimentality, earned media exposure and top conversation driving topics will be key in the coming year to shaping overall marketing strategy, even beyond the social space.
Technological innovations will play a major role in the future of sports in 2015 with hardware innovations, such as next-generation connected TV’s, creating living-room experiences enabling seamless (or even simultaneous) access to data and both TV and digital streams. The integration of professionally-produced video and footage into major social media platforms will also change the way the fan accesses sport.
Wearable tech is also stepping up its game going into 2015, with growth by wearable tech companies expected to be around $19 billion by 2018. A wider range of devices than ever before are being offered by wearable tech companies to the consumer and the fan, including devices such as those aimed at improving your golf or baseball swing, to those analyzing your fitness workouts, to some that track every step that a player makes during a rugby or soccer game. Integrating wearable tech into games will be key, with data driving fan engagement and off-field interactions. Apps and software advancements linked to wearable tech will allow the fan to get a greater understanding of what it takes to be a pro in the current sporting age.
Sponsorship within sports is set to change dramatically as saturation point nears, requiring a more creative approach to sport sponsorship in order to keep the public interested, and generate new business. The professionalisation of the sports industry will continue as firms look to turn sports business into a profitable business across all spectrums.
Women’s sport is also set to come to the fore in 2015, with the Women’s Soccer World Cup taking place in June, with eight new teams making their debut in the tournament, which has already increased teams from 26 to 24. More and more women are also taking to the floor in the sport business arena, taking on important roles and changing the male-dominated face of sport.
2015 will be all about speed: how fast you connect with your fans, how fast you can create marketable content, how fast you can change the game through innovation, and how fast you can predict the next big thing. One thing’s for certain, it will be yet another bumper year of sport!