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The Modern Sports Fan is a Connected Consumer

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Throughout summer, Stephen Bourke, presenter of our "
Managing Digital Transformation in Sportonline certificate program will share insights in the form of infographics and blogs on different aspects of the business of sports in disrupted times. 

 

Introduction

Consumption preferences and behaviours continue to evolve so quickly in the digital era as fans and consumers alike come to expect the service experiences that are available in their daily life from the best brands. 
 

Rapidly escalating preferences are the driver of disruption (not technology).
 

For example, the meteoric rise of Uber as the ride-share choice of the connected generation may appear to have been an overnight transformation.  Whilst it is one of the fastest growing companies ever and has become synonymous with disruption, its evolution was a lot longer in the making. Uber’s ability to change the supply and demand equation so rapidly was because of the markets longstanding dissatisfaction with the taxi industry and its service standards.
 

Like the taxi industry, sport is also highly disrupted. In 2015, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella declared sport to be ‘the most disrupted of all industries’ when signing on as Real Madrid’s transformation partner. 
 

Recently MIT Sloan Review published an article that put forward three signals that an industry is facing disruption. Following is an overview of how the industry of sports is affected by these signs of disruption;

 

 

 

 

Sign No. 1: Your Industry Has Significant Regulatory Burdens

While heavy regulations have a long tradition of protecting companies from new entrants, this may not be true in the future. Industries with high regulation often suffer from complacency, as they may not have had to worry much about customer experience or optimizing operations. However, emerging technology is changing this landscape and play without rules of regulation. - MIT Sloan Review’s ‘’Three Signals Your Industry is About to be Disrupted’

The regulated nature of sport is now at odds with our on-demand lifestyle. Matches and events are held at scheduled times, dates and venues whereas the connected consumer now wants what they want when they want. Sports teams increasingly feel like they are becoming media companies to meet fans demand for extended narrative on non-match days.
 

Also, sports participation – a strong indicator of fandom – is highly regulated by federations and leagues with membership structures becoming less desirable than technology-enabled experiences. As well as competition for attention from social media, Twitchtv and Netflix, mobile apps are now available to direct recreational players to local pickup games in an increasing number of sports and neighbourhoods.
 

Esports is disrupting the supply and demand model of tradition sports with Kleiner Perkin’s 2017 Internet Report claiming that as many Millennials now have a ‘strong preference’ for their favourite esport as those sports fans that share this same level of attachment to their preferred team. Esports are taking potential future fans away from traditional sports.

 

 

Sign #2: Your Customers Have to Work at Managing Their Costs

The second signal for disruption is that your cost models are difficult to understand for customers. This is often the situation when there are one or more middlemen between the origination point of the product or service and the customer. Handoffs in the supply chain often increase cost without adding value, and they also can contribute to poor customer experience. If your product requires a great deal of work on the part of customers in order to manage their cost, either through price tracking or haggling, consider yourself at risk.  - ‘’Three Signals Your Industry is About to be Disrupted”

Sports season ticket model meets this disruptive signpost as the netflix-type subscription model becomes the go-to consumption preference for the connected generation.
 

Annual ticketing and memberships as the basis of monetizing fans are reducing the appeal of live sports consumption in an era of transparency, ease and value. 
 

Unbundling and tailored packaging, based on analytical understanding of fans as individuals, is how forward-thinking leagues and teams are approaching this challenge of servicing fans and growing revenues in the digital age. Some teams are even allowing fans to ‘sell-back’ tickets to games that they won’t be attending.
 

Moving to a fan-centric approach is the major reason for any sports organization’s digital transformation. To deliver the most relevant ticketing and membership packages for fans, organizational change would include developing a strategy to inspire this purpose, overcoming siloed operations and investing in analytics solutions.

 

 

Sign #3: Your Customers’ Experience Isn’t Positive — or Even Neutral

The third signal often exists as a side effect from the first two: Your industry is not optimized for modern customer expectations — which means that customers aren’t delighted to interact with you. This often happens in industries where the consumer doesn’t have a lot of choice and is beholden to the provider out of necessity. - ‘‘Three Signals Your Industry is About to be Disrupted’

In the past, sports fans that want to consume the event may have contended with traffic, car parking and navigational issues alone before they reach their plastic seat. Long wait times for concessions may await them at half time.  Modern fans know that it is possible for stadiums and venues to provide them with a better service along their match day journey and experience.
 

Now, new venue builds and upgrades include unprecedented investment into technologies that can improve the game day experience for the modern fan. Wi-fi and the game day app are standard requirements so that fans can share and tailor their own experience via the super computing power that resides in their hip pocket.
 

These investments in the live experience have escalated capital costs and are necessary to future scale the luxury experience that current and future fans now demand. The significance of this investment in the fan experience is a sign of sports disruption in digital times – along with the aforementioned and cost signals.

 

 

 

The next edition of Managing Digital Transformation in Sport is commencing in September 2018.  Click here to learn more about this program. 

 

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