Ministry of Sport

Sports Industry Is Unprepared For Fluid Fan

A report from Sports Innovation Lab claims the future of the sports industry is uncertain as fans become more immersed in technology.

The leading market intelligence platform and research provider for the sports industry say fans are no longer bound by the loyalties of the past to individual teams and sources of information.

This means the ‘fluid fan’, as Sports Innovation Lab refers to them in their ‘A New Age of Sports’ report, will be more open to change, more empowered to choose, and is continuously evolving.

Sports Innovation Lab chief executive officer and co-founder, Angela Ruggiero, said the report analysed the changing dynamics in sports and the impact of technological advancements on the sporting industry to reach its conclusions.

“This research is a wake-up call for the leaders in the sports industry,” she said.

“When sports thrive, they unify, break down barriers, and heal us.

“I was in the Korean locker room in PyeongChang, South Korea when the North and South Korean women’s hockey teams united for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“These women knew what they were doing was bigger than sport.

“And that’s the power of sport when it’s done right,” Ruggiero said.

The report lists key characteristics of the ‘fluid fan’ as people that will follow digital communities, be loyal to players as opposed to teams, cheer for their values, have multiple selves and be a creator, not just a consumer.

Examples of these characteristics can be seen throughout the majority of sporting cultures around the world, which encourages the urgency of action from every sporting organisation to prepare and evolve to fulfil the needs of the new age sporting fan.

For example, the NBA-themed subreddit has over 1.8 million subscribers, which equates to approximately 15% of the followers of the official NBA Twitter page, which has 27.8 million followers.

Statistics like this go to show the impact and reach of fan-created and driven sources for news, entertainment, discussion and engagement surrounding the sporting industry.

Digital communities such as the NBA-themed subreddit are a strong indication of the urgency for sporting organisations to evolve and ensure they are doing whatever possible to be the main source of distribution and engagement for their sport.

Ruggiero said the challenge is also staying ahead of organisations like Netflix and Amazon, who provide service in a variety of ways that have the potential to simply reduce sport to somewhat of a laggard.

“The challenge facing us, however, is that our fans are undergoing a metamorphosis, driven by technology.

“This research is critical for the understanding of tomorrow’s fan and how the industry can adapt now to serve them,” she said.

The full report published by Sports Innovation Lab also provides recommendations for the industry on how it can adapt to the fluid fan, which can be downloaded here.

Joshua Hodson

Joshua Hodson