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The Bounce Forward

Posted on June 23, 2021 By Matt Cutler

In January this year we brought our UK and EMEA clients together for The Bounce Back, a data-driven analysis of how Covid was impacting sports fan behaviour.
With the vaccination roll-out starting and life with fewer restrictions on the horizon, everything pointed to a growing pent-up demand for sport.

Earlier this month we hosted a follow-up event, The Bounce Forward. Using six months of additional data analysis and projections, we showed that not only does sport have the opportunity to Bounce Back from Covid in the short-term, it has a longer-term opportunity to Bounce Forward and reach levels of interest and revenue far higher than those achieved pre-pandemic.

Below is an overview of the analysis from The Bounce Forward, alongside some key pieces of insight and data from the event.

Ultimately, we think sport can Bounce Forward because Covid has accelerated trends that were already underway and that benefit sport: fans are becoming more representative of our whole society; fans are interacting in a broader range of ways; fans have more diverse interests; and the relationships fans want are deeper and less superficial.

Bigger, Fatter Fan Funnel

Sport has developed a new fan funnel. At the top, more people than ever are interested in sport, craving live experiences and entertainment, feeling more confident about travelling and live experiences, and entering a buying mindset.

At the bottom, some avid fans are deepening their relationship with the sports and teams they care about, while others have had their habits broken and are now up for grabs.

That leaves, in the middle, a bulging section of floating voters – more people thinking about watching, following, consuming and attending sport.

With a bigger fatter fan funnel, that means there are now more people with a greater propensity to try sport for the first time, or deepen their relationship. This is a huge opportunity to take sport from mass to massive.

However, to capitalise, the products and marketing sports properties serve their audiences need to be broader than ever to meet their needs, both as a group and as individuals.

Those sports properties who Bounce Forward will be those that cater not just for the audiences they’ve always had, but the other audiences that are out there too. And with the societal shifts that have continued over the last 18 months, that means there are new non-negotiables, such as engaging with purpose and values.

Direct Relationships

Trends from the last 18 months have continued to show that direct relationships with sports fans will win in the near future. That is only truer now due to Covid; more people than ever are online, and with the third-party cookie crumbling before our eyes, marketing is moving to media channels powered by first-party data.

This makes direct relationships sport’s number one currency after cash. With brands and media owners also looking for their own way to come out the other side of Covid with thriving long-term businesses, sport – with large, at-scale and emotionally-engaged audiences – is needed more than ever. This means those properties who Bounce Forward best will be those who are acting now to build relationships with every fan in their funnel.

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