6 #sportsmarketing trends to watch for 2016  

Levi stadium

Sports marketing is an exciting discipline and one that is undergoing significant, disruptive change. Here are six trends you need to be aware of as we hurtle towards 2016…


  1. Increased emphasis on the fan experience and engagement

Many sports are experiencing a more competitive ticketing market so improving the fan experience and fan engagement is and will continue to be vital for sports properties. Many property owners are not only organising various events and digital engagement activities at the venue but also when fans are away from the stadium. Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is a good example of a rapidly emerging fan engagement (and commercial) opportunity for clubs, leagues and events.

  1. More connected stadia and ‘smart arenas’

Wi-Fi is now part of our daily lives. We expect Internet access everywhere and it’s no different at entertainment events or venues. Helped by the growth of beacon technology, the modern marketer is now equipped to send targeted messages to fans in specific locations throughout the venue. For a glimpse into the future, look no further than the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium (with around 2,000 beacons!) and the San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium.

  1. Big data will get bigger

As technology develops, particularly in the wearables sector (which is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 40.8% between 2012 and 2018), so does the amount of data we can collect from fans and athletes. Big data is already widely used within the retail sector (IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty was recently quoted on big data as saying, “it will be retailers’ basis of competitive advantage…and will be how you engage with your customers”). It will not be long before it is mainstream in sport, whether it be consumption and preference data collected from fans or data collected from athletes for performance monitoring, training and recruitment purposes (which can also be re-purposed for fan engagement activities).

  1. Mobile, mobile, mobile

All the research points to the continued growth of fans consuming content on their mobile phone rather than their desktop (like it or not, mobile is everywhere – according to KCPB, 73% of the world’s population are mobile phone users!). This brings many exciting opportunities for the sports marketer such as richer fan engagement opportunities, targeted ticket and merchandise sales offers and much more. Mobile fuels most if not all of the trends we have highlighted in this post!

  1. Fan generated content is becoming king

There has been a rise in the consumption of behind the scenes content, player content and breaking news, transforming sports clubs into media outlets. However, fans love to generate and share their own content to express their affinity for the club or sport they love. The impact of Periscope and Meerkat as well as social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, who are increasingly seeking out user-generated content from live events, will continue to drive a surge in fan generated content (it’s worth noting that video already accounts for 55% of global mobile traffic according to KCPB).


  1. Emergence of a new generation of commercial partners

The NFL has struck three significant digital deals recently with Yahoo! (global live stream of the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars game), Snapchat (user-generated content) and Twitter (official video content). Watch out for more digital media and marketing partnerships, particularly as social media and messaging platforms try to tie-up content agreements with sports properties. On the marketing side, many non-traditional product categories are likely to strengthen their affinity with sports. Watch out in particular for more activity from the wearables and daily fantasy sports sectors.

About the authors of this post:

David is a Chartered Marketer with more than 15 years’ experience in international sports marketing roles. You can follow David on twitter @davidgfowler or connect on LinkedIn at ch.linkedin.com/in/davidgfowler

Geoff runs his own Sports Consultancy, working with clients such as FIFA across the world. He is also on the board of SportNI.  You can follow Geoff on twitter @geoffwnjwilson or connect on Linkedin at http://www.linkedin.com/in/geoffwnjwilson

2 thoughts on “6 #sportsmarketing trends to watch for 2016  

  1. 7. “ISER”; Individual Social & Environmental Responsibility

    Intertwined in the fan experience, the demand for a certain degree of corporate responsibility will arise as part of the pride for the specific club that you love. This means that we will see logic (and not so logic) collaborative actions being made off- and on the arenas. The center-point of all people involved are the ”24/7-online-(smart)phone” where information are sent out through various sponsored social media – right on target. Naturally tons of information are gathered at the same time, for internal purposes, and for the partners.
    Hopefully the use of this highly commercial circumstance, together with the newfound sense of solidarity in people, will lead to a better holistic society – and eventually a healthier engagement of ”the dollar” in this world.

    I do realize this could break in 2017… but still.


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