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The Third Age of Sports: Digital Disruption and impact of COVID-19

Updated: Apr 1, 2021

Over the last decade, the impact of the digital revolution has dramatically changed how fan engagement, content creation, and sports media distribution was being perceived. Which meant that the “Third Age of Sports” was imminent on the cards and the old ways served us no longer. COVID-19 just accelerated the shift.


So how did Digital Disruption affected Global Sports Media and how SportiFan is tackling the challenges?

What is the ‘Third Age of Sports’ and what does the previous ages imply?

One that sports industry leaders Mailman & Seven League are betting they can solve through a unique partnership centered around the “3rd Age Of Sport.” Sports can verifiably be summed up into two fundamental periods, however, with the accelerated growth of Digital Media, we currently enter a third.

  1. The Pioneer Age — Almost 3,000 years prior, sports began as a hobby for entertainment and local area inclusion, yet the appearance of broad communications empowered a large number of individuals to join in, devour, and take an interest in sports interestingly themselves.

  2. The Second Age — As culture kept on building up a fanatical enthusiasm for the universe of sports, business ventures dominated and organizations were fabricated. Organizations began to charge cash for access, creating special sponsorship and publicizing bundles, propelling the notoriety of novice and pro athletics all the while. In any case, as media rights and pay rates keep on swelling, with the expanded benefit being the solitary objective, the market has begun to search for more effective approaches to use capital and increment fan contribution.

  3. The Third Age or Digital Age — Over the last 15 years, people have increased consumption of media, be it sports or any kind of recreation, digitally in an exponential manner. Standing in 2021 we are now surrounded by a Digital Age where technologies like 5G, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence have to bring revolution in how sports are being enjoyed, consumed, discovered, and monetized. Thereby causing vast diversion from traditional ways of packaging, distribution, and consumption of media.

Digital Disruption and Entry of Third Age of Sports:

2020 was a year like no other, the world witnessed a global pandemic that shook almost every major sector including sports. Since the month of February and March, all the major sporting events were closed. When it reopened we saw a sight never seen before — Stadiums without Fans. The first thing that was hit was revenue generated from ticketing and match-day deliverables.

But the problem wasn’t just the pandemic…

A generational decline of interest in sports due to lack of motivation :

A mind-boggling stat by Morning Consult shows that

Almost 50% of Generation Z (Age 13–23) says they don’t even consider themselves a sports fans.

Reason? Sports are not immune to the pressures from competing forms of entertainment, such as streaming and video games. Data provided by leading analytical firm The Maru Group for VIP’s “Sports’ New TV Formula” report shows that a new era of the sports fan is emerging, with long-term implications for televised games.

Statements from the survey:

1) Prefer Watching Highlights to Full Games

Fans age 18–34 are the most likely to say they prefer watching highlights to full games across the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

2) Most Games Aren’t Worth Watching Until Near the End

Just over a third of young NFL fans say most games aren’t exciting until they’re nearly over.

3) Regular Season Is Too Boring to Bother Watching

Close to half of younger MLB fans agree with this sentiment, with the sheer scale of a regular MLB season likely adding to this.

4) The Playoffs Seem to Drag On Forever

It’s interesting to note that fans 35 or older are very unlikely to say the NFL playoffs drag on — unlike NBA or MLB fans of a similar age — two-fifths of 18–34s say they do.

5) Watching the League Is One of My Favorite Things to Do in Life

Younger fans are engaging with leagues in formats outside of TV: video games, podcasts, fantasy sports and gambling.

The new essence of being a fan that is arising is one that values full games less yet at the same time needs to keep up via highlights. It searches for better approaches to draw in with alliances on new generational standing. This can possibly resentful the money-making machine that customary television rights have been for both leagues and organization accomplices, as the crowd fragments and are less simple to reach.

This doesn’t mean being a fan is disseminating, simply moving. Savvy classes will adjust with the occasions, understanding that a liquid type of fan is staying put. Computer games offer all-year commitment, with sporting events turning into a field where amusement hybridizes. Live games will stay significant, however, they will presently don’t be the lone mass way fans collaborate with groups and groups.

The sports distribution model is broken:

Cable cutting is self-evident, however, the issue runs further.

ESPN, the biggest games media organization on the planet, has seen their live games communicated charges increment by half the most recent 5 years, while they keep on losing a huge number of cable subscribers per quarter.

Credits — Lightshed Partners

Altogether, the games media behemoth has lost 20% of its cable subscribers since 2010, costing the organization ~$180M in yearly offshoot charges.

Credits — Lightshed Partners

Discovery Network even worse than Disney with subs down 7% year-over-year in 2020.

As media rights keep on walking higher and cable subscribers head south, it’s only a matter of time to find out when does the sports media plan of action break totally.

Lack of Digital Fan Experience & Engagement:

As COVID-19 shut down the majority of the events to host fans in the stadium it was evident that a proper Digital Fan Experience process map was missing in the inception. Over 80% of the 750+ sports media executives PwC polled in their annual survey listed enhancing the digital media fan experience and creating & monetizing digital assets as the greatest opportunities to increase revenue.

Now the question remains how can we challenge the orthodox approach and bring in changes to the existing system which of course No Longer Serve Our Purpose.

SportiFan came up with an advanced Fan Engagement Stack Tech that can change the way Digital Fan Engagement is perceived today, the ‘Sportifan FEST’.

To read more —

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