How digital media consumption habits have shifted during Covid-19

by Tom Smith

The sports industry as a whole is at a standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With a global recession looming just around the corner, rights-holders, brands, sponsors, clubs and agencies are trying to understand how Covid-19 has accelerated a shift in the way sport is consumed. Many will succeed, with the positive, innovative and first movers exiting this outbreak with more engaged and loyal fans. However, many will also fall by the wayside and never recover.

According to research conducted by Sports Marketing Agency Two Circles, the global sports industry will generate $73.7bn this year, falling a long way short of the pre-Covid-19 estimate of $135.3bn1. However, on a more positive note, the article points out that sport has history on its side when it comes to times of hardship.

One example of sport’s recession-resilient nature can be seen following the 2008 financial crisis. While a fragile economic climate damaged a multitude of industries across the globe, the Premier League impact appeared negligible as it signed a record domestic broadcast rights deal in 2009, worth £1.8bn1. One reason for this is that in time of austerity, sports fans tend to forgo luxuries like holidays and cars ahead of live sport, TV subscriptions and merchandise.

Two Circles chief executive Gareth Balch believes, despite these unprecedented times, good will come as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown… and it is. Namely, the sports industry’s acceleration towards a digital age1.

The shift in digital media consumption attitudes

The digital age Balch refers to has two different dynamics. Firstly, the change in the way fans are consuming sport, and secondly, sports properties ability to adapt to new digital media and technologies. To say drivers behind both of these dynamics have been heightened throughout this pandemic, would be an understatement. Together they are the key to creating innovative ideas, initiatives and campaigns that will see all sports fans through this difficult time.

A report published by market research company Global Web Index states that 87% of US consumers and 80% of UK consumers have increased their daily video consumption. With more time on their hands and no live sport, fans are turning to video content, and this increase in demand is what has led to Fifa opening its archives across owned and social media channels, F1 launching a virtual Grand Prix series and so on.

It is therefore evident that sports rights-holders are already pivoting their digital strategies. The good that Balch saw coming, is quickly being disseminated across our interconnected, globalised world and helping keep fans engaged while the hiatus in the sporting calendar goes on.