It is clear to see that the Generation Z sports fan is completely different to the more traditional X and Y iterations. What's more concerning for the industry is some research suggests Generation Z sports fan is less enthusiastic about watching sport.
Technology has played a massive role with this group of people. Post the birth of the Internet and mobile revolution we now have an entire generation that do not remember a world without the Internet, or a mobile phone etc.
Their daily lives involve social media, and how they watch and consume content has completely changed.
In a recent interview with Arsene Wenger he acknowledged (in his role as Chief of Global Football Development at FIFA) that the new football fans were not necessarily interested in watching 90 minutes of football. They were more interested in consuming a game in shorter highlights and best bits.
Ted Leonsis, the principal owner of Washington-based teams that compete in the NBA, NHL and WNBA highlighted his concerns on losing a future generation of sports fan.
Figure 1 - Poll of 1000 Gen Zers conducted by Morning Consult
“If you lose a generation, it destroys value and the connective tissue, it’s what some of the big sports leagues are nervous about. Could we lose a generation because we didn’t give them access and the products and services they want?”
[Rick Maese, Washington Post]
Technology maybe considered by some as part of the problem drawing people to other forms of entertainment, but is it also part of the solution aswell. There has been a real drive by Technology companies to develop fan engagement tools to try and connect with a new audience and get them engaged with sport.
Figure 2 - Is this level of interactivity, the future of sports watching. A concept video for Microsoft’s HoloLens headset showed how you might one day watch the game while tracking in-game stats and a player’s running speed [Microsoft's HoloLens]
I have seen examples that range from gamification of content, to using Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality, Esports, or digitally personalising the fan experience through photos, content etc.
As consumer behaviour continues to change, and Technology evolves it will be very interesting to see what Fan Engagement looks like in 5 or 10 years time.
SportsX has partnered with a number of cutting edge fan engagement tool providers, please get in touch with me at harbir@sportsxconsulting to learn more.