By: Jaden Narwal
This past year, we have seen immense changes in the sports business. Without thousands of fans in attendance every game, organizations and brands have had to get creative with how they reach their consumers and display a fun, engaging environment. From virtual fans, cardboard cutouts, and simulated crowd noise, sports entities have attempted to achieve some sense of normalcy during these difficult times. Today, with vaccines getting distributed rapidly, fans are being allowed back into arenas and before we know it, we may have sold out stadiums once again.
Going forward, we will see what industry trends will continue on from the time of the pandemic and what will return to form. Companies have spent much time working on how to generate revenue outside of ticket sales and in-arena services. There will be a number of concepts that carry over from this research.
One feature that looks to be effective is contactless service. We have seen many stadiums, such as Wrigley Field, have fans scan their tickets with their phones to enter the game. The Miami Marlins also are using QR codes placed on cup holders to order food and beverages. Small things like this will allow for much less contact and movement throughout arenas. It also seems to be much more convenient for consumers as well. Adding an option for contactless merchandise purchases would also be helpful to reduce traffic while keeping the revenue stream alive.
Another feature is in-person sports betting. Sports leagues and organizations have begun to embrace and profit off of sports betting. It will be on a state-by-state basis, but depending on if the senate passes a recent bill, we could see betting lounges placed into stadiums where fans can place live bets. Considering the financial upside of this process, we may see more advertisement and promotion towards these betting sites as well. As this continues, many deals will be made across media companies, leagues, organizations, and betting sites.
Finally, throughout the pandemic, gaming was one of the few industries that saw upside and interest grow during this time. Sports organizations have taken notice of this and will continue to associate themselves with eSports. We have seen a number of teams have eSports affiliates, such as the NBA and the NBA 2K league. Look for more leagues and organizations throughout sports to affiliate themselves with esports franchises and to promote the industry at games and within arenas.
Like many industries during this past year, sports have been far from normal. The time allowed those in the industry to get creative and find some alternative ways to keep people involved and engaged. While many things will return to form, we will certainly see some of these new methods carry over going forward