As the world emerges from lockdown, the sports media industry is contemplating a “new normal” of spectator-less events and limited operations for many months to come.
Disruption to competitions such as the Olympic Games has raised concerns over the long-term impact for an industry which had been projected to grow from €179 billion in 2018 to €224 billion in 2022 (Wanda Sports Group IPO prospectus, 2019). The lockdown has deprived also passionate fans of the action that brings so much inspiration and entertainment to billions around the world.
In response, Infront has developed a white paper that reflects our latest assessment of the current picture. This white paper is intended to offer ideas and trigger engagement with all stakeholders on the implications for the industry.
Our view is that this transition period provides a platform to mitigate losses and unlock new revenue streams, especially for “first movers”.
For rights holders, there is an opportunity to own the resurgent sports market as one of the “first movers” back to live sports, and to mitigate ticketing, hospitality, marketing or merchandising losses by innovating with new engagement tools and inventory, filling the void for fans and discovering new markets. This unique scenario offers a moment to “fast track” the otherwise costly, long-term development of digital communities through exclusive “fan at home” experiences, esports, content and solutions that can be commercialised.
For broadcasters, there is an opportunity to trial and integrate new technology, explore diverse content offerings, and harness the popularity of digital platforms and new viewer trends to accelerate changes in the way the live sport experience is delivered to fans.
For sponsors and brands, there is an opportunity to consider taking advantage of additional advertising space and new technology such as LED power packs and virtual tools, to broaden visibility through innovative content and evolving viewing trends, explore new segments such as esports, and to leverage the huge appetite among fans to watch sport again.
Infront stands ready to offer guidance and support across the four key areas explored in the white paper:
Broadcasters can compensate for a subdued atmosphere with new tech, different camera angles, statistics and richer content, fan watch parties or small viewing groups, and by focusing on player and bench reactions. There will be urgency to tackle piracy through tools such AI-fuelled software from Videocities.
Empty stands mean brands can, if regulations allow, increase exposure through LED board power packs and non-intrusive virtual software such as Viz Eclipse. Now is the time to push towards the wider adoption of LED boards, direct-to-consumer relationships and the use of more innovative, online content through new tech-driven tools.
Data analytics can enable more diversified, personalised content for fans, alongside watch parties and virtual reality. Rights holders can leverage exclusive access to athletes and “behind-the-scenes” content to enhance channel offerings for content-hungry fans. Content partners such as iX.co can help stakeholders to attract and retain new audiences.
Esports has an unprecedented opportunity to further cement its place in the mainstream. This offers openings for rights holders to build their own esports offerings, for broadcasters to expand their coverage, and for brands to tap into a rapidly-growing market.
To discuss how your organisation can explore the opportunities from live sports in post-lockdown contact us.