Every year the world stands witness to the dramatic plays of the sports industry-and 2016 certainly didn’t disappoint.
But if we let the air out of our own emotions and fanhood, and look objectively at the world of sports as a business, the numbers are startling. The sports industry is now estimated to be worth somewhere in the region of $500-600 billion worldwide-with impressive growth projected for the foreseeable future.
The commercialization of what were once cherished pastimes has become a big business, and an indelible cultural force with the strength to unify continents. Looking globally at this industry and its progression into the future, several game-changing trends emerge. If you’re in this business, thinking of entering or investing, these can’t be ignored.
Women’s World Cup Soccer became the most-watched soccer event in US television history (surpassing the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup)
Sports Illustrated’s coveted “Sportsman of the Year Award”, was appropriately renamed “Sportsperson of the Year” upon receipt of this year’s winner, Serena Williams.
eSports is not only exploding, but it’s poised to become the most popular sport in the 21st century.
Nearly $100M in prize money was awarded in e-sports in 2016.
3. Fan Engagement
As 83% of sports fans admit to checking their social networks while watching live games, sports properties are feverishly experimenting with ways to create a deeper engagement with fans and bring them closer to the action than ever before.
Intel announced a partnership with ESPN at CES on the upcoming X Games in Aspen, promising real-time data on jump heights, speeds, and in-air rotations during the games, through the use of tiny Intel hardware modules built into snowboards.
4. Mobile Ticketing
Countless trees will continue to be saved as the sports teams phase out the hard ticket!
Aside from the environmentally friendlier promise of mobile ticketing, the value of the data exchanged digitally through ticket transactions presents a greater opportunity to learn more about fans, creating a marketing edge. This does, however, forge a new revenue stream for teams and leagues to develop special designed “print-at-home” collectors items for that unexpected no-hitter.
5. Compression clothing
The market for compression wear is likely to expand faster than the more established categories of performance apparel, according to a new report from the global business information company Textiles Intelligence.
Sportswear manufacturers claim that compression garments can give athletes a competitive edge by improving their performance, reducing the risk of injury and accelerating recovery during and after exercise.
Dig in: 2XU, Zoot, De Soto, Craft and a few you may not be so familiar with like Skins, CEP and CWX.
6. Virtual Reality
As every industry tries to uncover ways to tap into this multi-billion dollar projected market, sports is already ahead of the curve.
As more leagues and teams experiment with simulated, 360-degree environments, VR is poised to revolutionize sports by bringing every aspect, and angle, of the game to you without ever needing leaving the couch.
7. Athletes As Investors
With the startup world being as prolific as it is, athletes are looking beyond traditional endorsements deals and seeking longer-term opportunities to further monetize their “game after the game”. Over $1billion in venture deals for sports-related startups have been invested over the past year.
As emerging companies seek capital, consideration to the interests, passions, and pockets of athletes will become more mainstream.
8. Smart Stadiums
To compete with the couch, advancements in technology, sustainability, and fan engagement will progress in the build of new stadiums and arenas-and you will have access to it all from the palm of your hand. As 70 percent of fans bring their mobile device to a stadium and use it during a game, owners will look to control the fan experience and entertainment, directly via smart phones.
Drones were already incorporated into coverage of the U.S. Open and X Games by capturing angles that would otherwise be impossible.
10. Bio footwear
Virtually all running shoes produced in the last 30 years have an EVA midsole and Ethylene Vinyl Acetate is found in most midsoles of running shoes, can last for as long as 1,000 years in landfills.
Nike, Patagonia, Salomon you name it, they all are waiting next green thing.