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Sports business after the pandemic

June 14, 2021

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Michigan Stadium. (via Flickr.com user Larry)

Sports business in 2021 and beyond

Sports venues across the U.S. and around the world continue to reopen as the vaccine rollout continue. Many fans have viewed this momentous occasion as a return to the pre-COVID sports world. 

While this looks like a “return to normal,” the events of 2020 have changed the way sports franchises operate and how they generate revenue. A study by Pete Giorgio, a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, said there’s three ways sports organizations can see success in 2021 and beyond: reshaping and reevaluating revenue-generating models, rethinking the role of sports in society, and redefining relationships with fans. And the study said this is going to mean big money for the teams that embrace this. 

According to Research and Markets analysts “the sports analytics industry is expected to reach nearly $4 billion by 2023 as teams, coaches, broadcasters, and rights holders harness data to improve performance and connect with fans.”

With some organizations just starting to look into these approaches, it’s a great time for journalists to learn right along with them to understand how fans interact with their favorite team. 

Reshaping and reevaluating revenue-generating models

One easy method business is tinkering with this is data monetization. In order to reduce contact of spreading the virus, many venues are switching to apps for social media, electronic ticketing and concessions.

“This combination of sensing, analysis, and engagement can fuel monetization on an integrated e-commerce and socially active platform,” Giorgio said.

Rethinking the role of sports in society

Athletes have used their platforms for many social justice issues, and 2020 just reaffirmed that. Regardless of the issue, organization could use an athlete’s influence as a way to connect and grow their brand, such as with tennis star and social justice advocate Naomi Osaka.

But this has drawn some criticism from some sports fans who just want to enjoy the competition. The solution: compromise.

“It may be necessary for sports organizations to find the right balance,” the study said.  “Allowing their players to express themselves on and off the field or court as they see fit, standing behind them when appropriate, but keeping the games professional and free of too much political content.”

Redefining relationships with fans

At the core, leagues and teams must build a foundation of trust with their fans, and this can be connecting with fans more than just during games. While this could start with communicating their COVID-19 policies, this goes deeper into connecting more regularly with fans.

“Their focus should be on unlocking the power of digital technologies to build year-round, two-way relationships with fans,” according to the study.

According to the Deloitte Fan Experience survey, more than 60% of fans agreed that having a great “year-round experience” would make them more likely to become more engaged with their team in the coming season, while 55% said that it would make them more likely to purchase a ticket in the future.

Reporter’s Takeaways

  1. Social media analytics have the metric by which many businesses measure customer satisfaction. Ask for these from team spokespersons and learn to decipher them. 
  2. Ask athletes to talk about stuff other than their performance on the field.  Connect with athletes on stories about community service and what they do outside the field of play.
  3. Search social media for fan groups. These can be a great way to see what is trending online, sometimes in a more private setting than searching various news feeds or asking fans in-person. 

Study can be found here.


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