An energised and action-packed two days kicked off in cinematic style with Managing Director of F1, Sean Bratches, and Chief Innovation Officer, Andreas Gall, from Red Bull filling the screens with material fitting for the Cineworld cinema that the event was staged, at the heart of The O2 arena. This opening was one of many times throughout the duration of SportsPro Live that we were all given a reminder as to why we love working in this industry.
Finn Walsh and I attended the event with LiveStyled having been working hard to push the fan experience to new limits with Spurs’ new stadium, and were keen to learn what the world or sport is planning in the not-so-distant future.
Speakers from F1, Arsenal FC, the Rugby League World Cup, The FA, UEFA, Red Bull, World Rugby, and many more didn’t disappoint. Here’s what we learned:
From global, to local, to personal. The shift to personalise content was mentioned in almost every presentation and panel talk at the event, and was certainly the key buzzword from the event.
Bastian Zuber, Director of Business Analytics & Operations of DFL Digital, spoke in his panel talk around fans' expectation for a far more personal experience than years gone by, and technology is catching up with the demand. With data at the heart of the plan, the world of sport is working towards the goal of giving fans an entirely personalised journey, bringing the fans closer to the sports they love than ever before.
Sports clubs, teams, stadia, or even entire leagues are looking to personalise fan interaction, as highlighted the need to personalise from a league level.
Importance of “Future-Proofing”
With technologies changing at a pace that many budgets simply cannot keep up with, it’s important to invest in agile technology that can be dynamic alongside technological advancement.
Tom Hines, Head of Content for Arsenal, spoke of Arsenal's investment in developing apps every 3 or 4 years at great financial and resource expense, having not invested in future-ready software. By doing so, it ages the digital infrastructure of the club to a prehistoric feel by being stuck in technology nearly half a decade old.
The race for global loyalty
As a football fan myself, it’s hard to imagine supporting more than one club. However PSG's Chief Digital Officer, Russel Stopford, noted that the average international fan supports 4.6 football clubs, and there’s digital international warfare to win over these fans before anyone else does.
Through digital, we are now able to personalise fan interaction to a point where fans the other side of the world feel immersed in a football club thousands of miles away. Building this relationship through personal engagement is vital to international growth, and those who invest digitally first will win their loyalty. The race is on.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, highlighted the ease to point all our focus on the younger generation. Whilst throwing around terms “Gen Z” and “Millennials” into a digital strategy may be fashionable, it’s important not to forget that fans over the age of 35 still are still looking for new ways to engage with the sports they built a relationship with for years.
In fact, the generation above the age of 35 are the ones with all the money. If monetisation and revenue growth is within a club’s or sport’s strategy, then it would be criminal to not focus on this demographic.
Personalisation spreads across not only geographically across borders, but demographics and age groups too.
It's time to embrace esports
The esports revolution over the past few years has disrupted the sporting world, inspiring an entire generation to interact with sport digitally. Many sports clubs across the world were fearful that the new kid on the block would spark the deterioration of following physical, 'real' sports. The truth, however, is quite the opposite, sports are actually leveraging esports' growth to facilitate their own engagement.
In the Netherlands, somewhat a pioneer of esports, they have created a FIFA gaming division aptly named the 'E-Divisie', parallel to the Eredivisie football league. Each team has a FIFA pro gamer, which competes in the league and other international events. Esports fans who follow their favourite gamers grow a unique affiliation and relationship with the players, a club, and stadia through an interactive online experience. Clubs that are wise to this and using relevant digital strategies are acquiring these fans across to the 'real' physical attendance of the club, as it it only a natural next step.
Premier League winning centre-back, Christian Fuchs of Leicester City, spoke about the value of the transitioned fans. Not only are esports gamers more tactically aware and have a more interactive relationship with players, but they themselves are the most valuable fans a club can get; they're digitally active, and willing to participate in the digital transformations of the 'real' clubs.
If you missed the chance to speak to us at SportsPro Live, the team would be happy to talk, simply get in touch on 0207 223 3262 or click to use the contact us form.