Three Evolving Sports Industries to Watch


As one of the world’s most popular forms of entertainment, sport stays at the forefront of technology. From a business perspective, leagues like the NFL and Premier League bring in billions in revenue each year and so executives are motivated to keep fans coming back by offering new opportunities.


From a fan perspective, what matters most is connecting to their favorite basketball, football, or cricket team. The more variation they have when engaging with their team – from attending live games to following a team’s social media accounts – the more they’re willing to participate in the sport’s fandom.


Lastly, there’s the sport itself. The advent of wearable technology has transformed how teams train, while also helping to make events safer, more exciting, and easier to watch from remote locations. In other words, the industry continues to evolve as fans, teams, and owners interact.


Here are three industries related to sports that will see expansion in the coming years.


High-Tech Stadiums

Now that the US has joined Canada in offering betting markets to sports fans, the fan experience is likely to change. For example, online betting options from Betway  include in-play features, which allow bettors to wager live on the action.


Already, some stadiums and arenas have begun to enhance bandwidth and Wi-Fi capabilities to cater to fans interested in these types of wagers. Just like elevated concessions and a seamless ticketing experience is vital for fan approval, lightning-quick loading times are also on the docket looking forward.


There are other ways in which the fan experience will be improved with technology. First, touchless systems for ticketing are helping streamline the stadium experience. Second, many touchless systems also work for concessions; the Raiders NFL stadium in Las Vegas, for example, allows attendees to buy concessions and pick them up through an app. The Sacramento Kings NBA arena even accepts Bitcoin for retail purchases.


Sports Simulation Competitions

Esports are the latest booming industry related to sports technology—though not everyone considers eSports pros to be athletes. Aside from the expansion of eSports leagues around the world, sports simulation markets are also expected to boom.


For example, the iRacing platform is one of the most popular full racing sims (simulations) available. Gamers build out setups that include wheels, gears, and multiple monitors to recreate the experience of F1 or NASCAR racing. Some even include shock systems.


For the past two decades, sim racing has been quietly building a global empire, with groups like iRacing at the forefront. The industry combines elements of eSports gaming with the intent of painstakingly recreating the ‘actual thing’ in terms of stock car racing and other racing series. In fact, NASCAR and iRacing hosted a competition for real-life pros to take a swing at racing in a simulation. The results were hilarious, and incredibly popular—so much so that  one pro signed on as executive director.


The Rise of Fringe Sports

As mentioned above, fringe sports leagues have benefited greatly from the rise of sports-based technology. Executives are able to create more opportunities for fan engagement, whether through virtual events or social media content. Additionally, they’re able to harness video streaming services to build popularity for leagues that were previously unattractive to major broadcasting groups.


Three ‘fringe’ sports that are expected to boom in the next decade are North America’s MLS, the global pro wrestling scene, and rugby. To be fair, all three sports have global fanbases that number in the millions—rugby, especially.


However, the MLS is expected to see multiple expansion teams join. As Latino influence in the US and Canada continues, the interest in soccer (football) will continue to rise as it has for the last twenty years.


Pro wrestling is also undergoing a global renaissance. In North America, All Elite Wrestling has finally taken a chunk out of the WWE’s long-held monopoly. Meanwhile, Japan’s NJPW league continues to see exponential growth throughout Asia, with more and more crossovers with the Western market.


Lastly, rugby union looks set to build out its fanbase worldwide  With multiple leagues running in Europe, Oceania, and South Africa, the future of rugby is likely to see further inclusion from other continents, including North, South, and Central America.

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