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Research Report - Sports Outlook, 2020 (Synopsis)

Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) industry group boasts one of the largest assemblies of deep industry experts anywhere. It’s respected for helping shape some of the world’s most recognized TMT brands and helping companies of all shapes and sizes thrive in a digital world.

Women's Sports Continue to Build Momentum

2019 has been a great year for women’s sports. A record attendance of 86,174 people at the MCG to witness ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Final between India & Australia is a burning example of the same.

The shift in momentum towards women’s sports has opened up unparalleled opportunities for corporates, franchises, professional leagues & ticket sales. But it hasn’t been that easy for women’s sports as it is for men’s. Several challenges like smaller prize pools, lower overall attendance, less attractive broadcast exposure & fewer sponsorship opportunities have hunt back the women in sports.

With women’s sport rising steadily above the ranks, it becomes more important to continue at the same pace. Sports organizations, sponsors, corporate houses & most importantly the broadcasters are the ones who can actually make a difference in the financial growth of women’s sport. And rising up with the ranks financially is a big & one of the most important way to get more people involved in it.

With the digitization mode on, leagues & teams can break the mold, break all those barriers & engage fans in a unique & different way. Storytelling through social media usually helps you to reach a much bigger fan base. It’s also important to support female sportspersons round the year in their journey. Inclusive hiring of women to work in sport is also essential to get more women involved in sport.

At the end of the day, it’s important to bring people to the stadium to watch women play & there is no better way than marketing offline & via social media channels.


E-sports continues its rapid revolution

In 2020, the global e-sports market was expected to generate $1.5 billion in annual revenues, primarily from sponsorships & advertising to an estimated global audience of 600 million fans. But, it was valued at just over $950 million, which is $550 million lesser than expected. (Information from Statista)

2020 was expected to be the year in which traditional e-sports franchises fully establish effective business & broadcast models for their e-sports league counterparts delivering fan experiences with mass appeal & determining the business model that will drive long-term growth & profitability.

Some looming questions to think about:

  1. How will brands be able to start measuring the return on their e-sports investments with confidence?

  2. How will physical e-sports venues evolve & how will traditional sports venues equip themselves for e-sports as a potentiality significant new revenue opportunity?

Opportunities for growth:

  1. Dramatic growth in streaming & broadcast sponsorships involving platforms such as Twitch, YouTube gaming, Facebook gaming, mixer & smash cast.

  2. New branding & sponsorship opportunities are also expected to emerge especially for brands that align naturally with typical gaming behaviors (such as energy drink, meal delivery & peripherals)

  3. Many markets are looking to launch new franchise league & city-based teams.

  4. Players can also reach to a larger audience with their presence in different OTT & streaming engagement channels.

Strategies that may facilitate growth:

  1. Creating more one-to-one relationships with fans, leveraging direct marketing & CRM approaches.

  2. The data coming out of engagement with e-sports leagues to drive greater monetization, awareness & advocacy. This will not only create a deeper engagement loop but also attract more brand sponsorship.

  3. Focus on providing more dynamic content & specialized challenges to players while working to promote & tie microtransaction opportunities to tournament gameplay.

  4. For participants, it is important to establish fairness & address cheating, doping & violence in video games.

Things to keep in mind while planning for growth

With e-sports still young, it’s important to commit to the basics & to avoid committing to a single business model. It will likely take at least a few years for the value proposition to mature & for providers to shift substantial audience numbers to streaming.

In the end, it’s important to cultivate a relationship with fans, because that’ where the sponsorship & popularity is going to come.


Sports Betting

Current Scenario

While many companies see opportunities to monetize sports betting, others raise a concern about legalized gambling’s potential impact on the integrity of sport & their organizations.

Growth Opportunities:

  1. One certainty is that legalized sports betting will increase the market for data, especially real-time data.

  2. As more people move from illegal to legal betting options, there is an opportunity for massive revenue growth.

  3. Companies should focus to hire sports betting analysts & increase their data capture abilities.

  4. Can boost fan engagement, with bettors partaking from home or while physically at games via use of mobile devices, in-seat screens & betting kiosks.


As betting expands, there is a potential for corruption & bribery among players, owners, teams & leagues. This could tarnish sports brands & jeopardize the reputation & legality of sports betting.


College athletes look to maximize their short-term value

Can you believe you being a college athlete can earn compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeliness? Yes, “California’s Fair to Play Act”, allows college players to strike endorsement deals and hire agents. Just think of you becoming your own brand!

This would be accompanied by the creation of ‘college sports free agency’, in which athletes would be free to go where they have the greatest ability to profit off their likeliness. If athletes are no longer forced to stick with the brands with which their school is affiliated, this could potentially allow companies to capitalize on many new branding & sponsorship opportunities.

When it comes to compensation, NFL Players Association is always having the back of college athletes as it has partnered with NCPA to promote marketing & licensing opportunities for college athletes - including the distribution of broadcast rights.

Some things to take care of:

  1. College athletes have the potential to create new revenue streams & ways to connect with younger audiences. Brands need to be careful when they deal with athletes as they might be young but can definitely create a very big impact.

  2. Brands will have to deal with agents or agencies of those athletes & with half of them not being of the legal age, a big question is if parents & guardians will have the right to make decisions for them.

  3. With college athletes receiving compensation, it may place a burden on taxpayers for public institutions, as well as on smaller schools that generate less revenue.


It is definitely a great step to make college athletes a brand, but it has certain drawbacks too as you would be dealing with a much younger generation.


Reference: (Sports Outlook 2020, 2020)

This synopsis has been put together by Sambit Mishra.

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