The changing world of sport - How sport will change over the next decade

The sports industry has undergone significant changes during the 21st century and further evolution is certain to happen over the next few years.

As with any sector, forecasting what the future may hold is no easy task, with new innovations arriving on the scene at a rapid rate.

Digital technology is sure to play a major role in proceedings, although it is not the only factor that will shape the sports industry in the future.

It is undoubtedly exciting to ponder how things may progress, so read on as we take a look at some of the ways we believe sport will change over the next decade.

Digital first

Digital tech has already had a major impact on sports and there is no reason to suspect that this will change any time soon.

Sports organisations have increasingly taken a ‘digital first’ approach to their operations as they strive to keep pace with the shift towards this medium.

From social media to data analysis of performance and more, digital tech impacts every aspect of the sports industry in the modern era, making sports-focused digital marketing agencies like SportsHabit uniquely placed to take advantage of future trends.

The ethos seems sure to continue apace, particularly as society becomes increasingly reliant on digital devices to support their daily activities.

Cutting the cord

The early part of this century has seen significant changes in the way people consume live sports content and this will continue apace over the next few years.

Cable and satellite broadcasters have come under increased pressure from sports streaming sites and platforms as fans strive to gain more control over the way they watch sport.

Sports rights holders are being forced to rethink their approach as more people cut the cord and subscribe to live streaming services.

The next decade is likely to see an even greater shift towards streamed content as fans seek greater flexibility over their live sports consumption.

Cross-platform branding

Most of the top sports organisations have historically recognised the importance of ensuring their brand appeals to the widest possible demographic.

This factor has been ramped up in recent years as behaviours amongst Generation Z have shifted further away from older age groups.

Cross-platform branding has become increasingly important, leading sports organisations to gravitate into areas they haven’t previously explored.

The growing link-ups between traditional sports and eSports are a great example of this in action, and this type of cross-platform brand relationship will become more prevalent in the future.

eSports in the mainstream

As we have just mentioned, eSports has become more important to the traditional sports industry than anyone would previously have thought possible.

It has been estimated that the sector could be worth more than $2.5 billion by the end of 2022, highlighting how far it has progressed.

Relationships between traditional sports and eSports will become more commonplace, but that is not the only evolution we are likely to see over the next decade.

Calls for eSports to be included in the Olympic Games have been growing, and the International Olympic Committee may well be swayed by the time 2028 comes around.

Political influencing

While many fans implore athletes to ‘stick to sport’, society must accept that politics and the sports industry are intrinsically linked.

In football today and other sports around the world, athletes are letting their political affiliations be known, particularly as they seek to champion causes close to their heart.

These include matters of race and diversity, each of which unquestionably cannot be separated from politics from a sporting perspective.

From ‘taking the knee’ to boycotting events and more, sports stars will increasingly use their voices to shape political thinking over the coming years.

Niche market growth

One of the biggest transformations we are likely to see over the next decade is spectacular growth in what have traditional been viewed as niche markets.

While right-minded people would never describe women’s sports as ‘niche’, that is undoubtedly how many of them have widely been treated up to this point.

This should thankfully change over the next decade as sports organisations finally start addressing this glaring inequality between the sexes.

Sponsors, broadcasters and the general public will also have a key role to play in ensuring that women are given equal opportunities to men across the sporting spectrum.

Fan experiences

It cannot be disputed that top-class sport needs fans to function properly, so it is imperative for the industry to ensure they maintain high levels of engagement.

In-stadium experiences are crucial to this two-way relationship, with fans rightly demanding value for money to justify their huge outlay on tickets.

The rollout of 5G technology will have a positive impact in this regard, allowing sports clubs to offer fans a more immersive experience inside their stadiums.

Improved Wi-Fi connectivity will also positively impact other areas such as sports betting, further enhancing fan experiences in stadiums and remotely.

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