The consequences of the pandemic on live content and experiences have led sports to become less relevant where the ‘hype’ is, the digital environment.

Clubs have been pushed by circumstances to become brands and athletes to prove they are influencers.

Football fans have been empowered in other roles in life like entrepreneurs, mums, runners or cooks. From football to society, disrupting the way we understand sport.

Football, what for?

According to the latest World Football Summit Report “Covid-19 Implications on the Football Industry”, while commercial revenue streams have all been severely affected by the lack of live events, content has stepped up as the primary value source for entertainment.

We don’t compete in the football industry, but in the business of entertainment.

OTT’s, players’ social media accounts and influencers are the media rights’ revenue streams expected to have increased the most by the WFS Advisory Board. Post-COVID-19 football is expected to redefine the way value is delivered by being digital activation, eSports, non-live content and owned OTT’s where most opportunities are.

WOW technology and experiences powered by data are building the ground of a new landscape in football and sports, where the massive growth of eSports tells us that the combination of experience and entertainment is creating a new culture among future generations. eSports is predicted to reinforce its dominance with a total of $537M generated this year and reaching $742M in 2023.

Moreover, we want and need to see purpose in the brands we engage with, given our inherent and natural needs of belonging and meaning. We do the same in football, feeling attracted by initiatives like the one that put the young As Monaco player Keita Baldé at the front of social activism. He decided to denounce racism in Spain, by paying for housing for 200 homeless people that were refused by hotels, hostels and estate agents because of the country they came from.

Sponsorships fall, relationships grow

Following the report, experts graded with -1.68 in a scale from -3 to +3 the impact of COVID-19 on one of football major commercial pillars, sponsorship. A situation of uncertainty that only creativity and empathy have been able to develop new strategies to continue in the top of mind and heart.

For example, we saw how last February, UEFA launched with Disney a ground-breaking football programme to encourage more young girls to exercise through Disney’s world-renowned storytelling. Targeting 5-8 years-old girls not currently playing football, the new initiative Playmakers aimed to be implemented in schools, clubs and local communities.

Because of the pandemic, UEFA and Disney were forced to redefine the programme by using Pixar Incredibles 2 themed activities to encourage children play at home. Six chapters of entertainment, creativity, exercise and stories.

An opportunity to create together, like the new leadership in the NWSL, which has proved to attract commercial interest from brands like Google, Verizon, Secret and Procter & Gamble to be part of a platform of social change, besides business. The result, $1.3M in social sponsorship value for league’s and clubs’ corporate sponsors only in the preliminary round of the Challenge Cup, according to Front Office Sports. 

Let’s focus on people

Technology with purpose, first-hand entertainment or in-depth digital experiences have come to disrupt the relationship from any brand with its environment, making us, as brands’ sympathizers, eager to hang out with those brands we find cool.

A new paradigm in the sports industry that reinforces the power of individualism, and people’s even when locked down. Shifting from football fans to just people will allow clubs and football stakeholders to redefine value generation and play significant roles in their lives, not just every weekend.

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