The commercialisation of sport has revolutionised the industry. The advent of e-sports and gaming, the synergising of different sports events together and branding fixtures as global entertainment are clear examples. In this blog, we review key events which have changed the infrastructure of sports business.
KSI vs Logan Paul 2
On 9th November 2019, the first-ever professional YouTube boxing event headlined by two digital creators at The Staples Center, LA. Sports promotion giants Matchroom Boxing also sponsored the fight. The event was a trailblazer, bringing young tech-savvy audiences into the sport, and astonishing results. The contest generated £2.15 million via PPV on Sky Sports Boxing. It was DAZN’s 3rd best-selling fight of 2019, and the Press Conferences accumulated over 15 million views across multiple YouTube platforms. It also raised the profile of other boxing superstars such as Devin Haney and Billy Joe Saunders. Both world champions garnered over 1 million online impressions on Google the day before the event.
Both KSI and Logan Paul delivered a digital marketing masterclass influencing a new wave of ‘sporting culture’ by integrating online entertainment with professional sport. Matchroom Boxing Director, Eddie Hearn, has openly admitted that more ‘YouTube boxing’ fights are a possibility because of its success.
Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor- ‘The Money Fight’
‘The biggest fight in combats sports history’. On the 26th August 2017 at the Staples Center, ‘The Money fight’ brought two different worlds together, producing a combat fighting masterclass with huge gains. Allegedly, Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather walked away with approximately 300 million dollars and ‘The Notorious One’ Conor McGregor left with an attractive fee of $100 million. The occasion produced $4.3 million PPV buys and grossed over $600 million through American Television Network Showtime. The PPV buys were the second-highest of all time, behind Mayweather vs Pacquiao in May 2015.
Meanwhile, UK betting companies took £250 million in bets, and 41% of UFC content was affiliated to the fight between 23 July-23 August. Each fighter gained over 400,000 new followers on Instagram on fight night alone. And major sponsor ‘Hublot’ had astonishing digital engagement numbers, experiencing a 184% increase in online engagement three days before the bout. This extravaganza will surely inspire combat sport to explore opportunities to combine different fighting disciplines into one global event.
Anthony Joshua vs Ruiz 2
This was another boxing frenzy which raised the profile of Saudi Arabia’s ability to showcase world-class sporting entertainment. AJ vs Andy Ruiz 2 is arguably one of the most successful boxing events in sporting history.
It was the highest-selling PPV fight ever for Sky Sports Box Office, and was DAZN’s most streamed event of 2019, keeping Eddie Hearn keen to host future events in The Middle East.
The fight also demonstrated the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s drive for equality and positivity through sport. The media coverage of AJ and Ruiz’s rematch will provide an opportunity for grassroots athletes such as Saudis first female certified boxing coach, ‘Rasha Al-Khamis’ to demonstrate changes towards progressive gender equality in the Kingdom.
Tottenham Hotspur- The Northumberland Development project
Spurs’ new multi-purpose stadium has provided a unique competitive advantage to the club, transforming it into a global entertainment business. Since its opening, Spurs has been listed as the 8th most valuable European club according to KPMG with a worth of 2,067 million Euros. The ‘Tottenham Hotspur Stadium’ has also won the ‘Venue of the Year’ at the 2020 Stadium Business Awards. The club has exploited the opportunity by bringing prestigious leisure events to its luxurious stadium. The club was due to host its debut boxing event between heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and contender Kubrat Pulev before COVID19 struck. Two rugby games for 2020, including Saracens v Harlequins and England v Australia were also on the calendar alongside music concerts including performances from Lady Gaga, Guns N’Roses and the Capital Summertime Ball.
The fascinating part of Spurs’ journey is them achieving their profitable economic status without winning any silverware since 2009. Their unique journey to off-the-pitch stardom sets a new identity for other clubs to be aware of when operating in such an innovative market, that off-the-pitch and on-the-pitch success are two different ball games.
Social Media integrating into sports marketing
The era of social media marketing is debatably the most influential part of revolutionising sports business. The sports industry has been quick to exploit opportunities available to connect better with their audiences.
In the early days of Social Media, sport used platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to update their fans on the latest news affiliated about clubs, leagues, and tournaments. Now, social media is one of the most significant revenue streams for sports clubs. It has also played a crucial role in expanding a brands identity to international audiences. This in itself has helped evolve into the industry it is today, a sector which is driven by data and statistics.
The 2019 FIFA Women’s world cup
Undoubtedly, this is the most instrumental game-changer to elevate the profile of women’s involvement in elite sport. The tournament reached a record-breaking 1.12bn viewers throughout, gaining an average audience size of 82.18m with the final between the USA and The Netherlands matching the viewership figures of the men’s 2018 world cup final between France and Croatia. This tournament has demonstrated to be bigger than just a ‘world cup’, it’s a movement showcasing the power women have to gain equality in a ‘male-dominated’ industry. From a digital perspective, the hashtag ‘Equal Pay’ appeared five times during the final where the USA beat The Netherlands 2-0. This inspired USA striker Megan Rapinoe to contest the US federation for gender equality. This campaign has encouraged sportswomen to take a stand and not to settle for anything less than what they deserve.
The world has experienced struggles with this unprecedented pandemic for the majority of 2020. The virus has provided an impetus for the sports industry to adapt for survival. Clubs, organisations, and governing bodies have had to re-strategise their traditional marketing methods to keep their audiences engaged without live sport.
Some major sports leagues have returned behind closed doors, including the Bundesliga, Danish Superliga, and the UFC. The most considerable change has been the absence of fan attendance, changing the atmosphere, experience, and commercial feel to sports. This pandemic has re-emphasised the fundamental role sports fans play in the social experience sport brings to society. Despite this torturous epidemic, the relationship between sport and its supporters could become more influential than ever.
Each of these critical events has proven sport to be an ever-adapting market, continuously adapting its identity and exploiting in new industries, territories, and audiences. The ability of sport to continually adjust and revolutionise will help sustain itself as a market leader in global entertainment.
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