Digital marketing consultancy Seven League has unveiled its annual trends report, revealing seven shifts set to shape the sport industry in 2019.
Publication of the Seven Digital Trends in Sport report comes at the end of what the London-based agency describes as a “momentous year of change.”
It particularly highlights the emergence of athlete-to-fan media platforms and the implications of sports stars increasingly going “direct-to-consumer” with their content.
The phenomenon has dominated headlines over recent weeks with the launch of the OTRO football platform and the global expansion of The Players’ Tribune via its acquisition of Unscriptd.
Seven League predicts: “With new independent platforms giving athletes alternative outlets to build their brands and boost their income [we can] expect the tension between clubs and athletes to increase. Players are becoming more aware of the value of access and no-one controls access better than the players themselves.
“Social media teams in clubs have long understood that getting player access can be a difficult dance that involves informal requests, favours and luck.
“Clubs are getting savvier about building in content commitments into player contracts but until these are more formally defined and negotiated it will be relationship building and having personable, relatable content makers that make the difference between a player giving of his/her time or not.”
Other trends featured in the report include the growth of voice technology; a rise in the use of social stories and docuseries formats; the rebirth of online communities; a shift in the conversation around OTT towards content and viewer acquisition and retention; a new emphasis on interactive, as opposed to immersive, content; and a rise in "centrally-coordinated, locally-flavoured" content channels.
The local-global trend has particular relevance for Seven League itself, which this year joined forces with Chinese digital sports marketing giant, Mailman.
Seven League, shortlisted at the BT Sport Industry Awards 2018, received major investment through the link-up, which aims to give both sets of partners and clients a global platform to broaden reach, build new fans and generate new revenues.
Richard Ayers, CEO of Seven League, said: “The 2019 Digital Trends report is based on our constant monitoring of the developments in technology as it pertains to sport - not just the things you read as a result of a google search, but by knowing creative technologists, platforms and developers.
“The global pace of change is accelerating fast, and the seven trends we highlight in the report further indicate the reasoning behind our partnership with Mailman.”
Ayers added: “In a global, competitive, rapidly adapting environment, being part of the Mailman Group gives us a uniquely global offering of consulting and agency capability, with deep digital expertise, to help our clients thrive as the sector goes through Digital Transformation.”