Armchair sports-fan

Far from being a slightly derogatory description compared to the die-hard, all weather fan who travels the globe in support of their passion, we are all now going to be watching our sporting heroes via streaming and TV channels. It’s hard to see how filling a stadium, roadside or venue with fans will happen anytime soon (even if in truth it makes no real difference to the health condition of a world that already has the virus…) Instead we will be organising sports parties at our homes to reconnect with our loved ones – instead of Sunday lunch it will be Sport lunch. It is right and proper that sporting mandarins struggle to get to grips with the outcomes – both sporting and commercial from this quantum shift in the business of sport. But it could very well be the saviour of many sports that commercially have struggled on the edge of oblivion in recent years.  Viewers will consume competitive content whether it’s cross-country skiing in Finland or Bundesliga football in Germany. And they will consume far more content than previously because of the sociological changes in behaviour resulting from COVID. Moreover, sports that needed an opportunity to be show-cased in the media now have a chance of getting that. So, for the viewer, we get more content from a more diverse range of sports. For the sports they get to publicise the thrills and spills to a global audience of media buyers and the unintended consequence, might be that the business of sport ends up making more money with empty stadiums than they ever did with a full house. But what about the atmosphere and quality of competition without attendances by fans? I am drawn to make an esports comparison here. Every week an esports competition is held somewhere in the world with well over 1m viewers & the global championships sometimes topping 100m viewers dwarfing the fact that only a few weeks ago physical attendance at these same events could reach 50,000 paid spectators. The first sports to adapt to this new model will thrive and supply us with untold pleasure. My bet is that it won’t be the sports you expect that prosper…#StreamingSport

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