The revolution in sports consumption will not be televised. It will be streamed, posted and sent directly to your phone.
The way in which the modern sports fan consumes sports content has undergone major changes in recent years. Technological advancements, fans’ preferences for how, when and where they watch their favourite sports and the globalisation of leagues and local teams have all impacted the way in which consumption has changed. In 2019, there is a constant stream of content from our favourite teams and players, and from any device.
You don’t need to look further than the two most famous soccer clubs in the world to understand how teams have gone global. As of April 2019, Spanish giants Real Madrid have a global social media following of more than 230 million fans on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Current La Liga champions Barcelona have 225 million followers across their various accounts on the same three networks. Combined, Real and Barça have nearly ten times more fans than the population of Spain. Both post to Facebook in a number of languages and hold various non-Spanish language Twitter accounts to appeal to foreign fans.
It was not so long ago that fans could only tune in to local sports networks to see highlights of their favourite teams and players, especially if they played overseas. Now fans just have to tap on their phones to get any kind of content they want. As fandom continues to grow outside of its traditional geographic constrictions; leagues, clubs and media rights holders are now changing their social media and content producing habits to reach fans in the far corners of the world.
Spanish soccer giants Real Madrid have a globalised fan base and are taking steps to engage with it
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a prime example. The league now hosts pre-season games overseas, its franchises play an annual regular season game in Europe and, according to Forbes, 35 per cent of fans who log on to NBA.com live outside of North America.
As of April 2019, the NBA's official Twitter account has a global following of more than 27.7 million people – more than the National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB) and European soccer’s Champions League. The league generates content in a number of languages and highlights certain players that appeal to specific audiences on a global scale. They are ensuring their brand is engaging across borders.
Others are following in the NBA’s footsteps, and sports leagues are rapidly moving from local leagues to global sensations.
This process is well underway, but it’s not the end of the revolution. So what’s the next step? In order to think big, media rights holders may next have to think small – individual people small. If you combine the globalisation of sports with life on the go and personal preferences, leagues and rights holders are going to have to appeal to the individual sports fan in new ways.
Global NBA stars such as Luka Dončić could soon be the cornerstone of individualised fan content
This is truly where fans will have full control over what they want to watch. This means that content will not target specific markets or demographics, but will be personalised to individuals.
Just imagine: brands, leagues and teams will be able to use data generated from social media and customer intelligence – or in this case fan intelligence – to individualise highlight packages for viewers, and fans could even create their own highlights by personal preference.
This means that the Steph Curry fan in China who logged into an app and marked the sharpshooter as his favourite player will receive a highlight reel of Curry three-pointers in Chinese. If a young Argentinian soccer player prefers highlights of her idol Leo Messi in Spanish, no problem.
Personalised content is not that far off in the distance. The industry as a whole is close to embarking on this final step of the revolution.