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The sports industry in 2024 – a global perspectiveJanuary 26, 2024

2024 promises to be another big year for the international sports world. On top of the high-profile annual events, 2024 will bring a range of Continent championships, World Championships, and of course – the Olympic and Paralympic Games – all of whom will be looking to find new, innovative solutions to drive attention and engagement.

In this, globalized world, we take a look at the main trends that promise to impact the sports world, with our sports experts from markets represent five unique continents.

1.What do you think will be the main global trend in the sports industry for 2024?

Jessie Gogan (Sydney, BCW Australia): Women's elite sports have made their mark and will continue to rise in 2024. The consumer and earned media interest in The Matilda’s (Australia national women’s team) during the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, earlier this year, was truly phenomenal. The triumph of that event shines a light on women in sport, not only in our market but further afield. Australian marketing experts say The Matilda’s brand is now more valuable than any other national sports team, proving that women’s sport is not only great to play in and watch but that it’s also big, big business.

Karl Haechler (Johannesburg, BCW Africa): Globally, Women's sports have been gaining momentum in recent years and this trend will continue in 2024. More investment, sponsorship deals, and media coverage will likely contribute to the growth and visibility of women's sports globally. From an African perspective, the increased focus on grassroots development and talent identification could be the main global trend in the sports industry for our continent in 2024. This trend is particularly relevant to Africa, as it has a wealth of untapped athletic potential and a growing interest in various sports. By investing in youth development, diversifying sports interests, capitalising on the success of African athletes, improving infrastructure, and fostering international partnerships, Africa can unlock its vast potential and contribute significantly to the global sports landscape.

Chris Console (New York, BCW USA): Building on movement that’s started in ’23, we’ll see the continuation of sports associations, leagues and teams continue to re-evaluate their media platforms, entering into integrated agreements with non-linear broadcast providers, and exploring alternatives for organisations to spearhead digital/streaming services on their own. While cable/broadcast rights agreements aren’t drying up anytime soon, sports organisations are uncovering new revenue streams through content distribution.

Alexandre Henry (Paris, BCW France): From our perspective, the main global trends in the sports industry for 2024 will be a focus on sustainability, eco-responsibility, and inclusivity. As climate change and environmental issues become increasingly urgent, sports organisations and events will need to prioritise reducing their ecological footprint and promoting sustainable practices. At the same time, ensuring equal opportunities and representation for all athletes, regardless of gender, race, or ability, will be crucial in fostering a more inclusive sports culture. With France hosting the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, there is a strong emphasis on creating an environmentally friendly and inclusive event that can serve as a model for future competitions.

Dolly Tayal (Mumbai, BCW India): From an Indian perspective, for both fans and brands, 2024 looks very promising, and the domination of major events will continue to take centre stage. The ability of brands to creatively attract fans will be tested. There are quite a few events to look forward to with the 2024 T20 World Cup to be hosted by the West Indies and USA attracting the major focus. The 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, too, will be followed closely in India because the country has seen the rise of a new breed of sporting heroes who are not cricketers. Domestically, a lot of focus will be directed at the TATA Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024. This is the two-month league that attracts maximum attention from business houses in the country and ad-spends hit the roof. This is also the period when brands unleash their best campaigns.

(C) Rolling Stone Australia

2. What one thing will make sports organizations/brands stand out in 2024?

Console (USA): While it shouldn’t be unique to ’24, now more than ever, sports organizations/brands will stand out by concentrating on activations specifically focused on fan engagements. A fully integrated communications strategy to activate a partnership(s), bring fans “behind the scenes” and incentivize them to feel connected both at the events or remotely must be a prioritization to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Henry (France): In 2024, sports organizations and brands that stand out will be those that implement innovative fan engagement strategies. By leveraging technology, data-driven insights, and creative storytelling, organizations can create personalized and memorable experiences for fans, fostering loyalty and long-term connections. Additionally, incorporating elements of sustainability and social responsibility into fan engagement initiatives will further resonate with audiences who are increasingly concerned about these issues.

Gogan (Australia): With the rise of AI and the drive for consumers to be spoken to as individuals – we will see more and more sports organisations driving unique, immersive, and personal fan experiences. Aiming to bring to life sports on & off the pitch and after games, brands can stand out by building excitement and intrigue via social media and leveraging AR, VR and AI. Also tapping into the right influencers – across channels such as TikTok to target new and existing audiences.

Tayal (India): Over the years, brands have spent considerable amounts of money in winning the attention of fans. They have come up with numerous interesting campaigns that have become talking points. They will adopt a similar approach in 2024 as well. With access to a few mega global sporting events, they would like to be at their creative best once again. As far as sports organisations are concerned, the challenge to improve spectator experience at venues is ongoing. However, some of the major organisations like the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have been taking steps to make things better for spectators. But they have a lot to do in order to catch up to meet global standards.

Haechler (Africa): From an African perspective, one key factor for organisations and brands will be their ability to create meaningful social impact while promoting sports development. This involves going beyond traditional sponsorship and marketing strategies to address pressing social issues and contribute to the overall well-being of communities across the continent. Sports organisations and brands that prioritise creating meaningful social impact in Africa will likely stand out in 2024. By engaging with communities, promoting gender equality and inclusivity, emphasising sustainability, collaborating with NGOs, and communicating transparently, they can set themselves apart and contribute to the overall development of sports on the continent.

(c) NBC Sports

3. What is the must-attend event in your region in 2024?

Gogan (Australia): The Australian Open taking place right now! The tournament is the first of the four Grand Slam tennis events held each year, and in 2023, it broke the record for the biggest grand slam ever, with 900,000 people setting attendance highs. It is set to crack 1M this year as it will become a 15-day event for the first time ever. BCW Australia supports Emirates across its sponsorship of the event , so we’re especially happy to be a part of it!

Haechler (Africa): We have 54 countries in Africa, so it is difficult to call out one. But, if I had to choose, it would probably be the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) currently taking place in Côte d'Ivoire, which is the continent's premier football competition. Football is the most popular sport in Africa, with millions of passionate fans across the continent. AFCON brings together the best national teams and showcases the region's top talent – fostering a sense of unity and pride among supporters.

Henry (France): The must-attend event in France for 2024 will undoubtedly be the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. This highly anticipated event will showcase the best of French culture, sport, and innovation while setting new standards for sustainability and eco-responsibility in the sports industry. Fans from around the world will gather to witness elite athletes compete across various disciplines, making it an unmissable experience for sports enthusiasts and casual observers alike.

Tayal (India): Cricket will dominate the Indian calendar. India and England have just started facing off in a five-match Test series starting 25th January 2024. This will be of keen interest to fans. Thereafter, attention will shift to the Women’s Premier League and the Indian Premier League, starting in February and March respectively.

Console (USA): While Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas (for the first time ever) is going to be the place-to-be, the 2024 Copa America tournament will serve as the first course of an impressive 4 year run for international soccer in North America. As the ground swell builds for soccer in the US, this also serves as a prelude to the ’26 FIFA World Cup that will span across the country, and a boom for fan tourism in host cities across the CONCACAF region.

(c) Goal.com