Understanding Sports Marketing in 2023
Understanding Sports Marketing in 2023

Understanding Sports Marketing in 2023

Digital Marketing

Jennifer Flanagan

Sep 15 2023

The state of sports marketing in 2023 is a unique blend. Live match-day experiences are regularly accompanied by what most now view as basic digital innovations, like mobile ticketing. Streaming platforms continue vying for the rights to air live events to wider audiences across the globe. Dynamic ads cater to ultra-specific demographics with personalized messages, while interest in esports and general sports betting grows. The interest in sports is vast, and that means major opportunities for advertisers who understand their markets.

What Sports Marketing Looks Like Today

There have never been more avenues to connect sports fans with their favorite athletes, teams, and fellow fans than in today’s age of digitalization. Driving sports audience engagement in 2023 is likely to take on a variety of forms – the in-person experiences offered in stadiums around the country remain a crucial selling point for sports marketers, but relatively simple social efforts (who doesn’t love a behind-the-scenes TikTok video?) also have a place in creating closeness with fans.

Encouraging brand loyalty unique to the world of sports fandom includes several principles marketers should be used to hearing by now: personalization, globalization, and digitization all represent major pillars of any branded strategy for the coming year.

And let’s not forget the pending evolution and expansion of Metaverse engagement, including the sports collectible market in the form of NFTs. While collecting digital assets may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea, the sports memorabilia market is expected to reach $200 billion by 2032 – thanks in large part to millennials moving away from physical auction houses and towards online platforms.

Sports Streaming by the Numbers

Statista reports the number of digital live sports viewers in the U.S. at 65.5 million in 2022 – a figure projected to surpass 90 million by 2025 as more households cut the cable in favor of digital platforms offering streaming options. While the smattering of rights deals within major sports leagues can be difficult for casual viewers to track, there’s still a heightened interest in streaming sports over paying for cable packages, even if it means paying for multiple streaming platforms.

That means significant changes to traditional sports advertising, especially when considering the prevalence of streaming apps on mobile devices. An estimated 20% of worldwide sports fans are taking advantage of sporting events streamed directly to their mobile devices (a figure which grows to nearly 50% in countries with lower data rates).

Building a 2023 Sports Marketing Campaign

Understanding the increased mobilization of sporting events and associated content can (and should) guide branded strategies in 2023 and beyond. Here’s what sports marketers are doing now to maximize these growing opportunities for content:

Emphasizing OTT. It’s not just Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime giving sports fans access to live games. Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, YouTubeTV, and others are making it easy for viewers to stream games from virtually anywhere. Expanding mobile viewership naturally leads to increased OTT performance.
Seamless Fan Experiences. Intuitive ticket buying, selling, and scanning is a requirement for a stress-free day at the ballpark. Digital promotions like rewards for checking into a game on the team’s mobile app, competing with an athlete’s high score on a minigame or scanning a QR code on the team’s jumbotron add layers to this digital connection between teams and fans. (Bonus points if you can get the team’s players involved.)
Player-centric Sponsorships. This is part of a much broader trend (the rise in celebrity-backed brands) but also applies to athletes. Sports figures come with built-in masses of followers and fans eager to invest in products backed by their favorite players.
Audience Segmentation. There are often clear dividing lines segmenting the markets for sports teams, whether they’re local or global brands. Using this data to your advantage naturally elevates ad performance, as well as insights into lifestyles and interests unique to your brand.

A growing audience of sports fans joining in the fun through mobile viewership and social engagement presents more opportunities for high-performing campaigns than ever before. By better understanding these audiences, marketers will be well-positioned to present curated sports content through digital means to encourage greater fan loyalty and engagement.

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