Preparing To Win: The Top 5 Commercial Sports Trends For 2018

Preparing To Win: The Top 5 Commercial Sports Trends For 2018

When it comes to sport, it is the willingness to prepare to win that sets apart the most talented athletes and the best teams. And with the sports industry facing an unprecedented level of change and disruption, it has never been so important to prepare for what’s to come in order to stay ahead of the game.

The latest report from Nielsen Sports outlines the five biggest commercial sports trends for 2018 that will have a notable influence on the way sporting codes, brands, broadcasters and publishers play the game in the future.

1) Distributor Disruption

Sports must adapt to a rapidly changing media landscape and a shift in the way consumers prefer to watch content. Emerging powers including Facebook and Amazon have ramped up their interest in sport creating new industry opportunities, while challenging the position of traditional media. In order to seek scale against the tech giants, traditional media will likely look to consolidate; while increased competition will force higher fees for some premium content.

2) ESports Evolution

Professional competitive gaming, otherwise known as esports, continues to be a dynamic growth sector for sports, and tapping into its power is a top priority for publishers, brands, media and traditional sports. The fan base for esports is growing at a substantial rate. More than one-in-three fans in the U.K., France and Japan have started following esports within the last year.

Esports is a unique platform to engage a younger audience, create compelling content and drive commercial partnerships. We expect that esports will take its cue from traditional sports and adopt similar revenue-generating models. And traditional sports will adopt esports innovations when it comes to fan engagement, live streaming and the event experience.

3) Content Rules

Consumers’ attention spans are shrinking. And while interest in sport remains strong, the preference to watch sport on TV and in long-form is contracting, especially among younger generations. This has given rise to short-form video on digital platforms which are in turn driving engagement and revenue.

Leading sports are already experimenting with new technologies including voice activation, virtual reality and chatbots. And social media continues to grow in importance to brands as athletes, as influencers, grow in power and value.

4) Sponsorship to Partnership

Sports sponsorship has evolved in recent years. Previously, brands would buy visibility, with a relatively small number of assets. Today, brands expect a tailored package with flexible rights that includes integration across multiple rights holder touchpoints.

Having a clearer understanding of fan bases is critical in helping rights holders justify sponsorship value. Those that can prove their value using data to connect to business objectives will take larger shares of the sponsorship revenue pie.

5) Sports in our Changing Society

The relationship between sport and society is changing. Purpose, diversity and social responsibility will become an increasingly important part of of what brands represent; and spend will increase on sponsorship campaigns that exhibit brands’ credentials in these areas.

And, we can expect to see more women, ethnic minorities communities and emerging markets engage with sport in the future, changing the complexion of sports media and marketing.

To download a copy of the Global Commercial Trends In Sport 2018, click here.