Sports Trends for 2020

When we predict the trends that will mark the coming year, as well as those to come, the experience shows us how changing an environment can be, where what seems to be the coming bombing, suddenly appears a new technology or event, which immediately breaks down bets whose success was guaranteed.

Who doesn’t remember, for example, the spectacular future that was predicted for tools like Vine or Periscope in the sports event’s environment and today, however, both are condemned to be forgotten.

In this sense, I don’t think there will be a radical change with that next big thing in the world of telecommunications like 5G, which has already been released with the joint project between Telefonica and FC Barcelona for the Camp Nou. Technology can certainly help, but if the content is poor, it is not going to be of great help to us. The challenge is more about making the competition formats attractive and, above all, more dynamic and flexible, so that they are able to attract the new audience and maintain the traditional one.

Although the environment may be changing, I believe that these will be the trends that will define the immediate future in the world of sport.

Changing the emissions rights scenario

It is a fact that Amazon, Google or Facebook are going to get involved in the bidding process for sports broadcasting rights, but it must be taken into account that a few years after the sports promoters realized that the performance of the sale of rights to the pay-per-view format to different televisions has been far below expectations, there will be a temptation for many to develop their own OTTs (Internet broadcasting platforms) and distribute the content as they wish without restrictions. In this sense, it is significant that ASO, the promoter of the Dakar Rally, has taken such a different approach to broadcasting that it has given priority to ensuring the longest and best possible hours of television broadcasting rather than profitable contracts, and above all, to providing attractive content to all its participants, who have acted as a gigantic network of channels, thus obtaining a multiplier effect of their broadcasting, with results that are being achieved in a spectacular way.

Sports people as a channel of own diffusion

Effects like the one mentioned above, give us a clue that the main power is on hands of Leagues, Federations and sports people, rather than on the multimedia giants. We are going to see more and more frequently how the good work of those who take care of their communication channels and are able to offer the content, where they want it, when they want it and without cost or with a very assumable cost, is rewarded. The joint work of athletes and competition owners is essential, let us not forget, that in the end people follow the heroes, those people or teams that inspire them and make them dream. Many lessons have been learned in these past years and this trend will therefore only grow and consolidate.

E-sports and virtual sports simulation

Both concepts will definitely be a growing trend and although the two seem to be related, I would like to make a difference between them:

What is commonly known as e-sports, from my point of view have nothing of ‘sports’. They are the traditional video games, taken to their maximum expression at a media and competitive level, a form of entertainment of spectacular success nowadays, which I respect very much, but for me games like Fortnite, have nothing to do with the physical demand and life model that real sport requires.

Different categorization, it seems to me however that activities like sim-racing deserve, the competitions with the technology inherited from the simulators of the Formula 1 teams that I consider a variant more appropriate to be called ‘sports’, both in the sense of being a training system for professional drivers, as a way of entry to sports by the younger public.

The multi-million-dollar investments in simulation by the aeronautical and automobile industries are making this technology accessible and extremely useful to sportsmen and women and to fans of sports such as football, golf and skiing. Let’s see how wearable technology and augmented reality allows to combine in multiple formats the real competition with the virtual one, as well as an input in the form of data. All this, will result in greater efficiency in training and sports practice, as well as the enjoyment of broadcasting and new opportunities to activate sponsorships.

The different approach to sports sponsorship

With these recent profound changes, leads us to the inevitable conclusion that the return on investment of sponsorship has become an enormously complex task and we must ‘work on it’ much more now, because visibility alone is no longer the main value. The disastrous television audience results in most major sports competitions in recent years will force a change in both the narrative and the sponsorships ways are activated.

Now, we are going to see how, in a more and more generalized way, sponsorships are going to be provided with solidary, inclusive or ecological content. It is now necessary that the involvement of companies in sport is understood as something that goes beyond creating brand recognition and affinity and is now perceived as an element that leaves a positive legacy in society.

We are going to see an important effort from promoters, in the sense that their competitions, their stadiums, their events or their logistics are going to consider sustainability and certain social content. If this is not done, companies will find it much more difficult to justify their investments, as well as to achieve that coveted holy grail called engagement

In this new environment, the communication is going to play a fundamental role, since we have been able to verify these days for putting an example, as a competition loaded with positive elements as it is the Saudi Arabia Soccer super Cup has been buried enough by the controversy generated by its more controversial elements, as they are the derivatives of the association with the Saudi government, its development far from its natural geography, its competition to four teams, etc.

The process must be worked on with attention and anticipation, since it has been proven that many times even the most noble causes are viewed with caution by part of the population, as a result of political polarization and the amplifying effect of social networks.

Difficulties in obtaining sponsorships

Sport sponsorship investment by large-scale companies is not particularly attractive, since in the environment described above, there are sectors with a significant history of sport sponsorship that could have their investments limited by being targeted by regulators.

There is some concern about measures that can be taken with regard to alcoholic drinks, but also with regard to beverages or foods that are not considered healthy. However, if any measure affects these sectors it will not, in my opinion, be as immediate as if I believe it will be with the advertising ban by bookmakers.

The problem with this measure is that it will also lead to sponsorships such as state Lotteries and betting, which are key supports for many sports federations and elite niche sport followers. It is logical that this is the case, as the line is very diffuse about what produces gambling through its advertising and what does not, but as I said, it is going to generate a problem of not easy remedy for an important sector of our sport, because to this, it is added that from a recent time to this part, the public institutions, also have more and more difficult to destine public resources to sport sponsorship.

Therefore, it involves plenty imagination and work in the sector, because although there are difficulties, there are also many new opportunities. It is well known that in sport, the one who comes out with a winning mentality from the beginning is the one who has a chance to succeed.