6 things to look out for in sports this year

Jack Glennon
May 6, 2020

From live-streaming to esports and the continued rise of personal brands, 2020 looks set to be another unreal year in the world of sports. Here are six things to look out for over the coming year…

Sports stars using their platform for good

The biggest stars in sports all have a platform in the digital world and have done for some time. We’re talking millions and millions of followers on social media and one thing we saw more last year than years previous was these platforms being used to raise awareness for issues within society. Take Marcus Rashford for example who over the Christmas period, used his platform to launch a ‘Christmas Box’ campaign to help support Manchester’s homeless community. We could go on for quite a while with more examples, Raheem Sterling and his role in the fight against racism, Héctor Bellerín and the General Election, the CALM campaign featuring Harry Maguire, Jordan Pickford, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min are just a few we saw in the last half of 2019.

For the longest time, sport stars have played it safe,not speaking out on issues in order to avoid potentially damaging their image and keep sponsors happy. This has now changed and these large platforms are being used to raise awareness on important societal issues. We’ll continue to see more of this through 2020 and beyond. It’s also likely that we’ll see more and more link ups between big name stars and organisations doing great work in society. 

The growth of the personal brand 

This isn’t something new, for quite a while now a lot of sport stars have been bigger than the club or sponsor they represent. Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have a bigger following than the clubs they play for. With such large followings, not using them to your advantage seems stupid. 2020 will see the continued growth of the power of the personal brand.

The rise of streaming

Streaming has been around for a while but we saw it take centre stage over the Christmas period in the UK with Amazon having the rights to every single Premier League game on Boxing Day and the days following. This was a big first audition for the platform and it appeared to have passed with pretty much flying colours. A platform like Amazon will take a little while to establish more of a foothold in the Premier League but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them move into other football leagues and sports. DAZN has been making more and more of a footprint in boxing with the coverage of Joshua vs Ruiz 2 in December of last year. The possibilities are endless in the world of streaming and this is only going to continue this year. Not only with major streaming platforms but on a smaller level with clubs utilising the live-streaming capabilities of their social platforms. 

 

Personality over being safe 

“Play it safe and keep the sponsors happy.” it’s a simple PR move really, say nothing is better than saying something that might offend someone. For a long time brands and organisations played it safe whilst sport stars accounts seemed to be run by someone who wasn’t them, in order to avoid any chance of saying something that would be damaging to their image. This came across as robotic and lacking personality, it was boring. But we are starting to see a switch… 

People connect with a personality. It’s why you have friends, you connect with their personalities and seeing your favourite sports star or club have a bit of personality makes them seem more human and relatable. Take this example from Raheem Sterling.

At the end of the day, the person behind the account is a human being and getting more of this across will go a long way in building better relationships with both communities and the individuals within them.

Women’s sport 

The last decade was a game-changing one for Women’s sport but 2019 was a breakout year. It was the year we saw the England Women’s team sell out Wembley for the first time, The Women’s World Cup took centre stage on prime time television, and we can’t forget Fallon Sherrock becoming the first female to win a match and two consecutive matches at the PDC World Darts Championship over Christmas, becoming a fan favourite at the same time. 

Things like this are only going to continue in 2020, the growth of women’s sport means that it is more appealing to sponsors and advertising. Women’s sport is finally getting the recognition and attention that it deserves.

Esports, esports, esports

The world of esports seems to be going from strength to strength and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon either. Over the last few years, it has stepped into the mainstream with backing from big names like Drake, Michael Jordan, and Marshmello. The rise and popularity of Fortnite is probably one of the major reasons why we’ve seen so much growth with stars like Ninja singing sponsorship deals with the likes of Red Bull.

Other sports aren’t ignoring esports either with many football clubs signing ‘esports players’ to represent their club and also signing stars from other games like Dota 2, PSG have one. Moves like this make sense when you look at the stats. In 2018, there were 215 million occasional viewers of esports and 165 million enthusiasts. This is predicted to grow to 307 million and 250 million respectively. So yeah, BIG numbers…

It’s clear to see that the audience is there, it’s also clear to see that the audience is of a younger demographic and with sports organisations and clubs always needing to bring in new fans, it’s a logical move to go where the audience is. 

Now these are only my thoughts around some things we might see more of this year, I might be completely wide of the mark and completely wrong. Even if I am, we’re still set for an incredible year of sport, both on and off the field.

If you’ve got any thoughts about things we’re going to see in the world of sport and content this year, drop us a tweet @BehindSportHQ and let us know!

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