The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the sports industry as live events have come to a halt for a good two years. This unprecedented event changed the way fans consumed sports content, pushing sports marketing companies to devise ways to make sports more engaging and personal in the virtual world.
Storyboard18 sports marketing experts and media executives spoke about the new world order where digital has taken center stage. Fan experiences have become more immersive with new technology tools like the Metaverse and digital collectibles and engagement has become the top priority for broadcasters and franchises across all sports formats.
Focus on sports content by brands
After the pandemic, sport and fitness have become big drivers in the mindset and you see people consuming a lot of it all and new age brands prefer sporting talent because of the values they bring, says Nikhil Bardia, Head of Sponsorship and Talent Sales at RISE Worldwide.
“As the world goes digital and specific ROIs can be calculated, there is no better economic way than sports to reach such a national/international customer/fan base,” he notes.
Spotify (music category), for example, is a new entrant this year with e-commerce company Meesho, which has partnered with four IPL teams and will be the official online shopping partner of five-time champion Mumbai Indians, Royal Bangalore Challengers, Rajasthan Royals and Gujarat Titans.
Lucky Saini, VP and Chief Brand Officer, Meesho told Storyboard18 that the partnership will help reach the value shopper across India.
“IPL also helps maximize our reach among male buyers as it has a greater inclination towards male viewers,” he notes.
Web 3.0 and deeper fan engagement
Interestingly, we are also witnessing a dawn where the world is moving to Web 3.0. brands, teams, franchises and leagues are largely capitalizing on the emerging reach of collectibles and engaging in the metaverse, says Bardia of RISE Worldwide.
“Additionally, brands are looking to leverage AR and VR tools to engage with audiences. As we enter this new era, it will open up a plethora of options for brands to selectively utilize,” he adds.
The IPL Gujarat Titans franchise, for example, introduced an innovative fan engagement strategy with player interaction in a metaverse. The team let their drummer Shubman Gill chat with fans in the Gujarat Titans locker room and home stadium in a metaverse on April 15 where he showed fans the two venues the team created and responded to some questions.
In December 2021, Yuvraj Singh also launched his own NFT collection, which marks his entry into the digital non-fungible token (NFT) space with his collaboration with Colexion, Asia’s largest licensed NFT marketplace.
Other new tech features announced by the company include a metaverse cricket show, a new online voting system, mixed reality analytics, and a new technology venture “Behind the Scenes” (BTS), among others.
Divyanshu Singh, head of sales and marketing at JSW Sports, notes that the biggest upside of 2022 is that it will be the year when digital ad spend exceeds TV ad spend, which is in the range of Rs 40,000 crore. . This was supposed to happen in 2025 but was accelerated by the pandemic.
“First, brands and sponsors are trying to understand how sports assets can be leveraged on digital platforms. It’s no longer just branding on shirts, but how influencer marketing can penetrate the digital world. Plus, it’s time we understood some of the global trends and learned from them, from NFTs and digital collectibles to Web 3.0 and blockchain in sports.”
“We have seen some of our talents, like Rishabh Pant, make inroads into the industry. Delhi Capitals will also soon announce a major partnership to launch its digital collectibles, making it the first franchise to do so in the IPL. The metaverse and how Web 3.0 is taking off in India will be something everyone is incredibly interested in seeing as a major development in the coming year as well,” he adds.
Continued rise of digital media
Experts believe that how the sport will be marketed will be dictated by these significant shifts in consumer behavior. This is where the ease and convenience of watching games on digital screens comes in.
One of the reasons for which digital platforms are gaining popularity. sports content.
“So for broadcasters it would be much easier, traceable and cheaper to contact the relevant TG who is digital native on those platforms. It is certainly one of the major changes in sports marketing, where spending is mainly dominated by traditional media, mainly television,” he notes.
“Additionally, media connectivity would play a huge role in reaching consumers. Therefore, broadcasters will not rely solely on TV viewership for returns, as subscriptions on these media platforms would also be important. , if not more”, he concludes.