With baseball season winding down, football season just starting and the NBA season just a few days away, it’s a favourite time of year for sport enthusiasts, couch coaches, and armchair quarterbacks. This year more than ever, there are opportunities to engage with your favourite teams and athletes in new and exciting ways.
New team-focused apps allow fans to go behind the scenes of their favourite teams, re-live their favourite players best moments and access exclusive content. Customized memorabilia lets any sport lover feel like they are really part of the game; from shirts to furniture there is no object too big or too small when it comes to team collectibles.
The world of sports is clearly big business. A research study from last year by A.T. Kearney found, “That the market for sports events in 2014 – revenues from tickets, media rights, and sponsorships – was worth close to $80 billion, with impressive annual growth of 7 percent.” The same report estimates the global market for sports, including equipment, memorabilia, tickets and so on, to be worth as much as $700 billion dollars annually, or 1 percent of global GDP.
It’s no surprise that we have seen so many efforts to capitalize on the business of sports. This year has seen the advent of short-term fantasy football leagues that have been likened to online gambling with players. Instead of locking in a weekly roster, daily fantasy football players chose and new roster and compete for monetary prizes each day. Forbes estimated the fantasy football industry to be worth 70 billion dollars in 2013, before the surge in daily fantasy football leagues.
G. Scott Paterson, a venture capitalist with long experience in new media who is also Vice Chairman at NeuLion, a leader in digital video broadcasting, is not surprised with the growth in new sports media. He’s particularly impressed with how the app market has met the demand for digital content. “App developers have really responded to changing viewership in the sports market,” mentions Paterson. “Sports apps now sync live video, live audio and live data to create dynamic and interactive TV-like experience over the Internet to any device. Five, ten years ago, that would have been unheard of.”
Scott Paterson also notes that users want to engage with their favourite teams in an easy (and easily accessible) way. “Last year, sports apps were downloaded more than 25 million times,” G. Scott Paterson says. “The apps are really successful because they are designed to work seamlessly on any device, subscribers can get the sports and events they want when they want them.”
Sports isn’t all about the money. There is also a sense of community and pride that is created and fostered each year as a city cheers on their own teams. Toronto, for example, has come alive following their hometown baseball team’s three game winning streak in the ALS series. Toronto is a city that takes a lot of flak for its sports teams, so the Blue Jays success in the 2015 season has been especially sweet for Canada’s largest city.
The city has been so enthralled by the Blue Jays’ victories that the mayor and city council erected a large screen outside city hall televising the team’s home and away games. Dubbed the ‘Bird’s Nest’, the energy in Nathan Phillip’s square, where the screen is located, has been electric.
Scott Paterson notes that the current city-wide enthusiasm in Toronto strikes at the heart of what sport means. “That’s what sport does, it brings people together and fosters camaraderie and community.”