The way people consume sport is changing. Festivities are moving from the stadium to the screen – both big and small. Smartphones and tablets are used to follow up with your favorite sports. Sports have cast the net out beyond the typical spectator, boundary lines are blurred, and the popularity is booming, connecting with not only past but new fans as well, who are taking part in a movement of unveiling sports trends.
If you've been paying attention to the way sports have evolved over the past few years, you'll notice that things are starting to look a bit different.
We're seeing more technological innovations and new ways of monetizing the industry than ever before. We've seen players become brands, teams become celebrities and leagues become businesses.
The sports trend market is always changing, and it's important to keep up with the trends year after year. We've talked about sports marketing trends in 2021. To keep up with the tendencies, let's take a look at some of the top upcoming sports trends of 2022.
Regular Athletes Become Brands
In recent years, we've seen athletes like LeBron James and Serena Williams become household names outside of their respective sports. They're not just athletic superstars anymore; they're also cultural icons who have transcended their fields with their influence and success on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
This trend will continue to grow as more athletes become brands in their own right — which means that there will be more opportunities for them to promote products outside of their fields of expertise. The days when athletes only endorsed products that were related to their sport are long gone — now they can endorse anything from cars to soda, skincare, and much more!
Moreover, fans crave real experiences with their favorite athletes, whether it be through social media or by representing a brand outside their field. They want to know the story behind the numbers – who the athlete is beyond just their sport. Organizations that support athletes should be prepared to tell their stories—not only on a team level but also on an individual level.
Demand for Digital Media Rights Outpaces TV Broadcast Rights
There’s a growing demand for digital media rights, and it’s only going to increase in the next few years.
Demand for digital media rights is outpacing the demand for traditional broadcast rights as more people watch live games on their smartphones or tablets. This trend is already evident in some leagues — Major League Baseball sold its first streaming package last year. We can expect it to accelerate rapidly in the coming years as more advertisers look to reach younger audiences who are shifting away from traditional TV channels.
In 2022, we’re going to see more sports organizations sell their digital rights and move away from traditional television broadcasts. This shift is going to be led by the NBA and NFL, who are already making massive strides in that direction.
In 2022, a new era of stadium design will emerge, with smart stadiums as the norm. The future of stadiums lies in the rise of smart stadiums. Smart stadiums are venues that use technology to improve the fan experience.
They are designed to provide a seamless experience for fans and spectators, and they help teams boost their bottom line by increasing revenue streams, cutting costs, and improving the overall experience for both players and coaches.
These venues will be equipped with sensors that track movement and collect data to improve safety and fan experience.
Smart Stadiums will also feature interactive displays that can provide information about the venue, its history, and upcoming events. Fans will be able to use them for ordering food during games or concerts without having to wait in long lines at concession stands.
Viewer Diversification Is Growing
The biggest change in sports viewing habits is that people are watching more games than ever before. While traditional sports remain popular, the number of fans who tune in for esports is growing every year.
ESports will generate nearly $1.38 billion in revenues globally by the end of 2022, according to Newzoo data.
Moreover, VR technology will take off as VR headsets become cheaper, more accessible, and easier to use at home or work. This technology will allow fans to get closer than ever before to their favorite teams and players.
Sports fans are also turning away from cable companies in favor of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as sources of news about their favorite teams. A recent study by Pew Research Center found that more than eight-in-ten Americans get news from digital devices rather than from cable TV channels.
In 2022, we'll continue to see a diversification in the way that people consume sports.
Crypto Companies Entering Sports as Sponsors
Crypto realized that the sporting industry – which links crypto well with gambling platforms that have now begun accepting crypto as a payment method – is an avenue for big sponsorships and marketing deals.
One of the most notable and talked about sponsorships in the crypto industry was Coinbase landing a deal to sponsor the NBA. The multi-year deal propelled the platform into the spotlight instantly.
ByBit, a cryptocurrency trading platform, has partnered with Oracle Red Bull Racing. The multi-year, multi-million dollar partnerships have put bitcoin in the limelight of a rising sport.
The crypto industry is on a massive upward growth trajectory, and the sports industry will only benefit from it.
Everything is Going Meta
With every industry joining the Metaverse, sports is no exception. Companies like Sorare are offering fans ways to buy, trade, and sell branded non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Video games are increasingly launching NFT-based strategies. DraftKings’ NFT strategy includes gamification, and PLBY’s NFT strategy will unlock keys to the “meta-mansion,'' setting up a recurring revenue stream based on membership.
Athletes are selling NFTs of their game-winning baskets and doubleheaders, just as content creators are auctioning off NFTs of their work. For instance, a former Gonzaga basketball star has auctioned an NFT of his famous buzzer-beating shot in the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four game against UCLA.
Moreover, professional sports leagues, including the NBA and La Liga, are increasingly embracing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as an alternative to traditional methods of player and fan engagement.
Final Thoughts on Sports Trends in 2022
Ultimately, the best way to predict future trends will be to just pay attention to what is already happening. Since some of these trends are already apparent, they are easier to analyze and predict.
The biggest takeaway from the article is that sports are becoming more digitalized, with what used to be a primarily analog experience becoming increasingly digital. Another is that there's still massive growth potential in the sports industry, which bodes well for companies that want to enter it as sponsors.
Author: Sofi Grigoryan