State of the sports industry – looking to the future

As optimism returns to the sports industry and things begin to get ‘back to normal’, we should expect to see future growth of 5% over the next three to five years [1]. So, what could the future key trends be that ensure this growth as well as increased fan engagement for brands and sports federations?

Digital transformation

There has been a continual shift away from traditional forms of media such as TV, which was accelerated by the boom of social media and heightened by the pandemic. With fans wanting more access and in-depth content on their favourite sports and stars, brands in sport, including federations and sponsors need to look at ensuring their digital presence is strong. Embedding digital in every aspect of the business is key, transforming people, processes, and technology along the way to ensure content is viewed by the right audience at the right time [2].

The rise of esports

During 2020 esports experienced a huge increase in popularity, as sports fans looked to supplement their lack of live fixtures. According to estimates, this popularity is going to continue to grow with the global esports market revenue predicted to reach almost 1.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2023 [3]. esports offers another source for brands and sports federations to engage with a new fan base.

Increase in betting

In 2019, the US Supreme Court delivered a landmark decision to strike down the federal ban on sports gambling, allowing individual states to make their own ruling on the legality of sports in states [6]. This decision has opened a huge new market of potential sports fans, in one of the biggest sporting nations in the world. Sports betting was also boosted throughout the pandemic, and executives forecast continued growth at an annual rate of 6.4% [1]. With more sports fans betting on their favourite sports, it provides another avenue for brands and sports federations to be able to engage with their audiences.

Prioritising sustainability

Fans are looking to sports organisations to provide transparent, clear and effective action through CSR initiatives that benefit both people and the planet. 84.5% of sports organisations cited building the trust of fans and participants as motivations to actively engage in social and environmental sustainability [1]. Read our article on Sustainability a key part of the new sporting agenda.

Popularity of women’s sports

The popularity of women’s sport is increasingly growing, with 21% of UK adults having increased their following since March 2020 [4]. While a report, led by Futures Sport, found that British broadcast audiences for the sector are set to increase to 51.1 million by the end of this year, up from 46.8 million viewers in 2019 [7]. This September (2021) the Women’s Super League (WSL) match between Everton and Manchester City pulled in a peak audience of 800,000 viewers on BBC One [5], this ever-growing interest and fan base presents an extremely important opportunity for brands and federations to grow and engage with fans.

Story10 enables brands and federations to identify and capitalise on opportunities, which help bring them closer to their audiences, by driving engagement and ensuring reach and relevance through our global distribution network.



[1] PwC: Sports industry: ready for recovery?

[2] Deloitte: Digital transformation and future changes in the sports industry

[3] SportsHub: 10 future trends of the sports industry that will rule the world

[4] Guardian: Not just surviving thriving interest in women’s sport has risen since the pandemic

[5] Report: WSL nets record viewing figures for BBC

[6] Wanna bet? Here's where all 50 states stand on legalizing sports gambling

[7] Study: UK women’s sport viewership set to reach 51.1m in 2021