By V. Hassun
Indeed, the pandemic has had an impact on most sectors. However, there has been an unusual and sudden change to sports. All professional and amateur sports were suspended in 2020.
Numerous sporting events planned for years had to be cancelled, forcing associations and clubs to stop their operations for several months. Professional athletes suffered significant losses. Some businesses suffered a 40% decline in sales. They now anticipate everything to be back to normal by the end of this year.
Nevertheless, the sports industry has proven to be highly resilient, depending on creativity and a remarkable capacity for adaptation in a crisis. This resiliency has been greatly aided by sports marketing, particularly in e-sports.
Even though the pandemic locked people at home, new technologies emerged, making available new marketing strategies for companies.
Digitalization expanded during these three years when people could not interact socially, even in sports. The event industry has advanced its digital transition to survive in the business.
E-sports has seen significant development. The number of viewing hours for e-sport events has tripled thanks to live streaming, and spectators worldwide have been fascinated by players’ performances. Sports marketing professionals quickly saw the new opportunities and adapted to them, creating value.
The advancements in digital sports marketing during the pandemic were much more than just passing trends. They altered how sports marketing is carried out and created new standards that are still applied today, both in media and sponsorship.
In social media, new content formats have become well-known, such as highlights of matches or competitions, behind-the-scenes videos, documentaries, and even bloopers of videos the athletes were supposed to film.
Streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others now offer original and interactive sports content to meet the new expectations of audiences.
New distribution channels have also emerged in sports marketing.
A streaming platform called Twitch is gaining momentum and competing with TV.
Influencers have been growing, especially with the increase in the use of social media, and one of the revolutions post-covid; influencer marketing. Social networks provide ample space for athletes to express themselves, share their values and beliefs, and engage with the community. An increasing number of athletes have started to use social media as a communication tool to advocate for important causes. This awareness strengthens the support of their fans. With the increase in social media activity, fans expect their idols to be more present on these platforms.
As the pandemic passes, sports events are returning, but the strategies adopted are not being left behind; on the contrary, E-sports and virtual events are rising. These substitutes created during the pandemic (virtual tickets and events) will continue.
The sports marketing team has been resilient in the face of crisis and was able to adapt very well.
And relating to the theme “What if,” you might ask, what if the pandemic never happened? Would the sports marketing team create innovative ideas involving so much technology in so little time? Most could argue that the pandemic was essential for these ideas to be created, and if the pandemic did not happen, such advanced streaming services might have taken longer to be created and put into action.