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September 13, 2021

The Sports Marketing Trends in 2021

As we enter the final quarter of this action-packed year, we thought to look at the key sports marketing trends in 2021.

Clearly, many of them are the consequence of the disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic created in our world, but some are here to stay and worth considering if you are planning your sports marketing strategy.

Embracing complexity: Changing fan habits and new technology are transforming the way that sport is delivered and consumed. This trend has only been accelerated by the pandemic, creating a complex, fragmented distribution landscape that offers both challenges and opportunities for the sports industry.

Entertain me: While demand for non-live content has been growing in recent years, the pandemic has cemented it as a crucial part of the way fans engage with sports. The lack of live events drove rights holders to open up archives and create different experiences while sparking greater interest in content beyond the field of play.

Performance and flexible partnerships: There are significant pressures on the budgets available for sports sponsorships, from the increased attractiveness of digital ads to the economic fallout of the pandemic and the impact of event postponement and spectator-free stadiums.

Tech boom: Data matters more than ever, fans are demanding ever-evolving ways of engaging with sport content and disruptors are reshaping every aspect of the market. During this time of transformation rights holders and brands must look to embrace the opportunities presented by the boom in innovation in sports technology.

A new essential ingredient: The mainstream potential of the esports phenomenon was well established before the pandemic as one of the fastest-growing sports segments in the world. But, the restricted access to in-person sports events as COVID-19 spread across the globe drew in even more viewers and competitors, including those from traditional sports.

While ongoing uncertainty about the resumption of play in various markets continues to have an impact, there are positive trends that have either accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic or look set to soar during the transition period and beyond.

These trends offer rights holders and brands attractive opportunities to further develop or establish revenue streams and to drive deeper and richer fan engagement in the short term while positioning for higher growth once social and travel restrictions are eased.

As a sports marketing expert that supports brands to anticipate and capitalise on new trends in sports marketing, Drive stands ready to help rights holders and companies navigate current uncertainty to make the best strategic choices to harness the potential of these key trends.