New year, new season, new trends! At this time of the year, everyone is filled with hot anticipation for all the great things that the new season will bring. I hope you are no exception. This is the time to fill up with new hope and excitement for all the success you also can achieve in the new year. And to set you up for that success, we are going to look at the sports trends you’ll be seeing a lot in 2023. That way you can prepare in advance. What’s that saying? “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail”.
Before we dive right in...
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In the wise words of Robert Kiyosaki, “the best way to predict the future is to study the past…”. And that’s what we did to come up with these trends. Not only that, but based on our first-hand experience and research, we are able to bring you these trends with great confidence. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Here are the sports trends you’ll be seeing a lot in 2023
Sports for many supporters and fans are not just about the game. They are a way of living and being. They are about identity and being. So we are seeing the rise of value-based fandoms. Scour through social media and you will see Facebook, and LinkedIn groups around women in sports, people of color in sports, and other identity-based fandoms. This is a sports trend that will continue into 2023.
This specific trend is relevant especially now with the Men’s FIFA World Cup being hosted in Qatar. A lot of people in the West especially, have been very vocal about their disapproval of this decision. David Beckham, the ambassador for this world cup has been slammed by many fans as a sell-out. That’s because he has collaborated with UNICEF previously working on projects toward equality. Furthermore, he was dubbed a gay icon. So his decision to become the ambassador of the Qatar World Cup, which will see him earn £15 million a year for the next 10 years, that is a whopping £150 million in total, has fans questioning if people will do anything for money.
Whether this controversy will affect the viewership, attendance, and other key performance of the tournament, we are yet to find out. But the reputation of David Beckham, FIFA, and other stakeholders seems to have taken a bit of a hit.
What this means for you
You need to give more thought than ever before to how your decisions will be perceived by your supporters. Granted, you will not be able to satisfy everyone 100% of the time, but you still need to be meticulous in your thinking. Not only that, but you need to embrace your role as an agent of change in society. So instead of going into defense, go on the offense. Tackle the issues that affect your supporters.
Here’s a great example
Here at Data Talks, we started the women in sports: beyond the hashtag initiative. We did this to help increase the visibility of women in sports. We have since expanded our initiative to launch a community where everyone who wants to become an agent of change in this area can come together. In this community, they can network, collaborate, and exchange skills and knowledge to succeed in our mutual goal of creating tangible change.
Now as a company, we were under no obligation to do this. We could have just focused on helping sports organizations get more supporters, superior sales, and real revenue without caring about the bigger issues such as inequality within sports. But no. We went on the offensive. We looked at what contribution we could make to the industry and we ran with it.
This is how you go on the offense.
Stars lending their power to the sports industry
This is one of the sports trends that I am personally excited about.
What do Stormzy (the British Grime rapper) and Natalie Portman (the Hollywood Oscar-winning actress) have in common? Well, they are both lending their star power in the sports industry to bring about equality. Stormzy launched Merky FC in partnership with Adidas to “change the game, providing young people of Black heritage with career opportunities from across the football industry” in the UK. Natalie Portman on the other hand helped found the women’s expansion soccer team Angel FC in Los Angeles.
What this means for you
Not everyone has access to rappers and actresses but we all know someone influential within our community. In fact, some of us are influential within the sports industry. So why not collaborate with those people on a project that will bring greater good to the sports industry? This sports trend is closely tied to the one we discussed above – the rise of values-driven fandoms. And when you think about it, Qatar was aiming for the same effect when they partnered with David Beckham. The key here, however, is to ensure that your collaboration does not tarnish your own brand and that it is authentic.
Here’s a great example
As part of our women in sports: beyond the hashtag initiative, we have been identifying influential people within the women’s sports space and interviewing them on our podcast, Sports CDP crash course. Our aim with this was to of course increase the visibility of women in sports. But also to amplify our voices because “alone we can only do so little. Together we can do so much”. For instance, we collaborated with a women’s sports coach from Sweden, a former professional goalkeeper based in France now, and currently working as a director for women’s football. We spoke to “stars” within the sports industry from across the globe. From Jordan to Florida, we are bringing everyone in on the conversation.
This is definitely one of the most prominent sports trends that you will be seeing a lot of in 2023.
Working data-driven and digitalization will only increase in sports
Some trends come and go. Yet this is one of those sports trends that refuses to go away. So if you have been slow in following this trend in 2022, 2023 is the year that you finally have to just get on and do it. That’s because working data-driven and embracing digitalization has uncountable benefits for your sports organization. We have written about these in a few blog posts and discussed them on our podcast so make sure to read and listen to them below:
- Challenges sports organizations are facing in this hyper-digitalized environment
- Digital opportunities every sports organization should leverage today
- The importance of collecting data with a sports CDP
- In conversation with … Fiona Green – the importance of working data-driven
- Why you especially need a CDP if you have a limited budget
We have plenty more resources but these are a great starting point. Although there are many benefits to working data-driven, I want to focus on the three main benefits that will definitely address your most pressing needs.
The benefits of working data-driven
Grow your supporter base, continuously
Getting social media followers is relatively easy. Post some interesting content consistently and eventually, you will have great growth. Especially in sports where fans are hungry for content. But where most sports organizations go remiss is that they stop there. They don’t then convert these followers into contacts within their database with full contact information. Making it hard to reach their supporters and target them with their offerings. Which makes it harder to sell more tickets, and merchandise and negotiate sponsorship agreements of higher value. So the benefit of working data-driven is that you get to do this quickly and efficiently.
Get superior sales
I briefly touched on this above. But the amazing thing about working data-driven is actually seeing your sales skyrocket! Can you imagine selling out every ticket to every single one of your games, every season? Think about all the merchandise and food and beverages you can sell when all your games are completely sold out every time. That is the goal, isn’t it?
Make real revenue
I mean, with a scenario such as the one above, you will be making real revenue, consistently. Working data-driven is never for the sake of just working data-driven. But it is to solve your real problems. Problems selling tickets and making revenue from ticket sales? This is no longer a problem when working data-driven.
However, you can’t do this with any odd software. You need a CDP. A sports CDP at that. Let’s not theorize though. Have a look at this in action.
Business-model innovation in sports
Again, this is another one of the most persistent sports trends that you will be seeing more in 2023. I like to call this, the “thinking outside the box approach to sports”. Thanks to data and digitalization, sports organizations now have more room to think outside the box. When this is done right it leads to more revenue and stronger relationships with your supporters.
There is a lot to uncover in this topic alone so I will not go into great detail. But here are some examples of business-model innovations in sports.
Digital media innovating revenue streams
This simply means leveraging digital media to increase your revenue. Think, over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms and having your own app. The former has been instrumental in the growth of women’s sports audience size and viewership for example. While the latter has really helped sports organizations grow their contact databases.
Everything that we have discussed so far points to this fundamental issue – supporters make the sport. And what supporters want, supporters should get. When you think about the values-driven fandoms that we discussed earlier, you realize the importance of community. And how turning your community into a business model can be crucial for your sports organization.
Product Innovation model
Sports organizations should focus on product innovation by capturing and analyzing data from all their supporter interactions and then finding the right opportunities to leverage.
Our customer PAOK FC, did this so excellently when they launched their Kurtić campaign. Jasmin Kurtić had scored a buzzer-beater goal in one of PAOK’s most crucial games and PAOK wanted to leverage this. So, they offered their supporters a chance to buy T-shirts featuring Kurtić. This single campaign increased their sales by 91% compared to the previous day.
What this means for you
The reason I call this the “thinking outside the box approach to sports” is that every sports organization is different. So there is no one size fits all that I can prescribe. However, I can say that leveraging data is the common denominator that can help all sports organizations determine how they can innovate. For example, for women’s sports organizations whose fans are very passionate about community, exploring community as a business model might be a great idea for you. And depending on what is happening in your club you can leverage different products to really increase your revenue. Just like PAOK did.
But it is up to you to really understand what is going on in your sports organization and how to use this to your advantage.
Content will still be king in 2023
Cristiano Ronaldo is the only human being on planet earth with over 500 million Instagram followers. And of the top three most followed accounts on Instagram, two of them are sports players. The first is Ronaldo of course. And the other is Lionel Messi.
And did you know that according to Nielsen’s 2022 global sports marketing report “the demand for content related to a live event (match announcements, highlights, recap videos, etc.) is almost as high as it is for digitally delivered events themselves?”
Listen to our “Content is King, so make it a key component of your sports marketing strategy” podcast episode to learn even more about all the benefits of leveraging content.
One of the biggest mistakes that sports organizations make when it comes to leveraging sports trends, such as content, is that they do this because they think that they have to. Not because they understand the fundamental reason for leveraging the specific trend.
What this means for you
Do you remember that we spoke about communities, value-driven fandoms, identity, and belonging? This is essentially the reason that supporters want more content from you. Because they want to feel closer to your sports organization. They want intimate and exclusive access to the organization. So when you produce content, it should be to fill this need. Not to tick it off as something that you do because you have to.
So once again, what this means for you is that you need to understand your organization and your fans.
Here’s a great example of this
We have a YouTube channel. On this channel, we post everything that we know that our community and customers want. For example, our women in sports docuseries featuring the amazing Pato Jerzak who is a professional football player and the founder of Football is Everywhere. Our audience loves this content because it helps them get a more intimate and exclusive look into who we are as a company. When they see that we share their passions and that we are passionate about making an impact, they feel a deep sense of belonging.
This is something that you can do as well in order to leverage content, one of the hottest sports trends of 2023.
Other sports trends you'll see in 2023
There are many other sports trends that you will see in 2023. But I chose to focus on the above sports trends because they have higher opportunities for creating revenue for sports organizations. And I am personally most excited about these sports trends as they can really help you establish fool-proof strategies to help you get more supporters, superior sales, and real revenue.
However here are more sports trends you will see in 2023:
- Accelerated growth of women’s sports, globally
- A continued emphasis on equality – we have touched on this throughout the blog post
- More investment in the African market through higher sponsorship agreements and grassroots funding
- The rise of sports betting in the United States of America
- A steady increase in e-sports across Europe. Asia is already leveraging this trend more so than other markets.
- More focus on fan engagement and participation through the use of technology such as artificial intelligence, extended reality, virtual reality, and augmented reality. This is especially true for mature markets such as APAC and the American Market.
The most exciting thing about ushering in a new year is the hope that one feels. The hope for bigger and better things. And hopefully (pun intended) you are feeling excited too for all the amazing things you can do.
In this blog post, you learned about the sports trends you will be seeing in 2023 and what this means for you. The sports trends we discussed are:
- value-driven fandoms
- stars lending their power to sports
- being data-driven and leveraging digitalization
- business model innovation
- content is king
All these sports trends are worth exploring and seeing how you can use them for your own sports organization. The reason we focused more on these is that they have the power to help you get more supporters, superior sales, and real revenue. All these are goals that are at the very top of your priority list. It is at this particular point I want to leave you with a warning and encouragement.
Never explore any sports trends that will not serve your priorities. That’s the warning. The encouragement, if you are a sports organization, we are at your service. We want you to end next year having had your most successful year yet. So use this to your advantage.