Spectator Sports - UK - April 2011
Although the economy is now no longer officially in recession, economic growth continues to be weak, with Q4 2010 seeing GDP slip back into negative territory. For 2011, the story is likely to focus around public sector budget cutbacks, which are leading to substantial job losses.
- Overall spending on tickets for spectator sports events grew by 20% between 2006 and 2010, to reach a value of around £800 million. In real terms this equates to a more modest rise in spending of 2%. However, in 2011, the value of the market is expected to decline as the continued economic weakness, low levels of consumer confidence and public sector job cuts make an impact.
- In all, one in three UK adults have been to a live sports event in the past year either in the UK or abroad, whether it required paid admission or not. Nearly four in five of those spectators went along on a one-off basis, with around a fifth going as season ticket/membership holders (focused on football and cricket), while rugby union has the highest proportion (around a fifth of all visitors) of people who have been to a game as a corporate guest.
- Interest in live sport is strongly driven by TV and other media coverage. TV coverage has increased by 30% in the past five years, with strong growth in football, golf, tennis and rugby, among the major sports. The shift in TV coverage of sport away from terrestrial and towards satellite and cable channels has also continued. In 2010 they broadcast 94% of all sport on TV, compared to 91% in 2009.
- Cost is the biggest deterrent to people going to live sports events more often, cited by 51% of people who watch live sport either in person or on TV. This reflects the scarcity of tickets for major events, which has tended to drive up ticket prices over the years. People are also put off by the high prices of food and drink at venues, as well as the queues.
- Atmosphere is seen as being the main aspect which makes it worth paying to go to live sports, particularly among cricket fans (62% cited this compared to an average of 54% among people who attended live sports in the past year). If people cannot go to a live event, watching it in a pub or bar is seen as the next best thing to being there, again because of the atmosphere. However, with developments in TV technology, such as HD, 3D and surround sound, broadcasters are able to bring more of the atmosphere of a live event to viewers at home or in the pub and this could potentially begin to erode live admissions in the future.
- Looking forward, around one in four people who have been to a live sports event in the past 12 months say they will probably watch less live sport in person and more on TV in 2011, rising to one in three among people who have been to rugby union. However, on the positive side, there is interest in the idea of loyalty reward schemes linked to visits (22% of live sports-goers expressed an interest), mobile phone apps providing information/commentary (15%) and other innovations such as heated seats in winter (10%), which gives venues scope to further develop their revenues.
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