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Sports Industry Trends for 2018


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Sports is a huge money-making business that is growing bigger and bigger each year, as teams and their sponsors try to convert the issues that face the industry this year into opportunities for more growth.

As with most industries, sports had been hit with technology advancement as well as cultural changes.

While amateur and professional sports continue to provide fireworks on the field of play, there is a great deal going on behind the scenes that sports fans are aware of.

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Fan Safety
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As was demonstrated by the bombing in 2015 at a soccer stadium in Paris and other more recent incidents involving large gathering or entertainment-oriented events, sports venue are vulnerable targets. Therefore, it is expected that an increase in security for events is to continue in order to maximize the safety of the fans.

As state of the art stadiums continue to be built by sports franchises worldwide, security protocols with the new stadiums are going to be added, why older stadiums are going to see significant changes to protocol to bring them up-to-date where it involves security.

New technology such as biometric recognition, radio-frequency identification tags, electronic fingerprinting, and other technologies of a similar nature enable sports venues to inspect each fan in a more efficient manner upon entry to the stadium, and evacuate as well as track fans safely and quickly if an attack takes place.

Keeping Fans Coming to Events

It is becoming more and more difficult for sports franchises to compete with the living room couch or the plethora of places to watch sporting events. With a myriad of options available, and busier schedules, sports fans who traditionally have bought tickets to attend live sporting events expect more flexibility if they are going to watch an event live at a stadium or other venue.

As it becomes more and more tempting to watch games form one’s home, teams are beginning to expand the overall definition for what they call “season ticket holders.” Tickets packages are evolving in order to offer them to a broader range of sports fans.

Subscription Mobile Passes

The National Football League’s New York Jets are offering subscription-based mobile passes as the team attempts to attract a more diverse lineup of fans. The mobile passes allow the fan to attend a set number of games for one flat fee.

Through the subscriptions, the location of seats varies upon the availability of the ticket, which gives the fan an opportunity for a unique experience at every game.

Banking System Membership Program

The National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils have started to offer a banking system type of membership where fans can choose to make deposits in advance into a specific account that is debited to buy tickets during the entire season. By giving the fans an opportunity to choose from games and ticket quantities at discounted process, they are given flexibility that more traditional types of packages of season tickets do not provide.

Innovating Game-Day Fan Experiences

Participation opportunities for fans have been added as an enticement for more fans to come to live events. Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals are using enhanced stadium experiences be selling season-long subscriptions for areas of the stadium that are “standing room only.” That provides residents that are in the city the stadium is located in, the ability to treat the stadium as not just a place that their teams play at, but as a social hub for the bars and restaurants at the stadium or venue.

Athletes and Social Activism

Over the past two years the sports industry has witnessed the resurgence of top-tier athletes’ demonstrations to raise awareness of social issues. It appears that this type of activism is not a fad that is going away any time soon. Player activism is more commonplace in sport, partly because of the politicization of the athletes’ efforts. Athletes have drawn much needed attention, but the overall message may have been lost.

Instead of sparking conversation about police brutality or racial inequality, the protests became political, to be cheer or rejects depending upon one’s perspective.

The bottom line of league may be affected by activism by the athletes. Viewership this past NFL season was down and while cord cutters may be part of that reason, sponsors have become anxious about having their brands associated with a product that has become less certain.

Soon, players and leagues alike might have to decide about the more important of two things – social activism or the bottom line.

This could be one of the biggest things to change sports moving forward as the fan bases could be altered according to whether one agrees with using a sport to be a social activist

Digital Spending and Marketing

Sports teams are moving their ad spending to digital as more and more viewers are cutting the cord with cable packages and buying only streaming packages that have specific events or programs of their choice.

As television commercials and billboards become a thing of the past, a data trail on mobile electronic devices is left behind for advertisers to use as a way to target fans with personalized offers to purchases merchandise and even tickets to events.

By moving the marketing budget to social and digital channels teams are able to more effectively pinpoint their fans that have an interest in their content already.

The sports industry is constantly evolving, and trends are changing as quickly as technology does.

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