Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the U.S Sports in 2021 market including the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

The sports world radically changed in 2020 due to COVID-19 as the pandemic brought the entire industry to a near standstill across the globe. But as sports began to resume, the industry looked to new opportunities and methods to continue to reach and engage the massive number of sports fans across the country. Sports are ripe for innovation and across the industry, individual teams, leagues, athletes and brands have created original offerings to further the fan connection with consumers.

Throughout the Report, Mintel looks to these new examples as signs of what is to come in sports in 2021 as these methods and innovations will become more widespread. While the pandemic continues to present new challenges for all industries, sports are well equipped to continue to engage the overwhelming majority of consumers across the country.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the sports industry.
  • How the COVID-19 recession will affect sports in 2021.
  • How consumers will engage and connect with sports in the coming years.
  • The future trends set to take hold in sports.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Colin O’Brien, a leading analyst in the Leisure sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

While the COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented disruption for sports, the industry has rebounded and is poised for a strong comeback season in 2021. Sports entities will continue to use new engaging methods of interacting with fans, offering innovative ways to promote engagement from a passionate fanbase of consumers. The innovations created in response to COVID-19 will impact and shape the sports industry for years to come.

Colin O’Brien
Leisure Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • COVID-19: US context
    • Economic and other assumptions
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
    • Impact of COVID-19 on sports
      • Figure 1: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on sports, November 2020
    • Opportunities and Challenges
    • COVID-19 poses an omnipresent threat to the sports industry
    • Find new uses for arenas to remain engaged with fans
      • Figure 2: Drive-in movies at sports stadiums
    • Brands look to provide tailgating at home
      • Figure 3: Tailgate at home
    • Close the women’s sports coverage gap
      • Figure 4: Sports fandom, by gender, August 2020
    • COVID-19 expedites a new sports attendance experience through technology
      • Figure 5: Social distanced seating
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Crowded sports calendar leads to viewership declines
    • 5G offerings will enhance fan experience
    • Arenas offer new opportunities to engage fans
    • COVID-19 creates new partnerships opportunities
  4. The Sports Market

    • Sports viewership takes a hit in crowded market
      • Figure 6: Sports fandom, by number of sports regularly followed, August 2020
      • Figure 7: Sports viewership decline year over year through October 15, 2020
    • Impact of COVID-19 on sports
      • Figure 8: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on sports, November 2020
    • Lockdown
    • Re-emergence
    • Recovery
    • COVID-19: US context
    • Learnings from the last recession
  5. Market Factors

    • Macroeconomic factors carry impact for sports world
      • Figure 9: Unemployment rate, January 2007-September 2020
      • Figure 10: Consumer confidence, January 2007-October 2020
    • As cord cutting increases, streaming becomes a bigger player
      • Figure 11: Hulu Has Live Sports campaign
    • 5G offerings will enhance fan experience
    • Increased legalization leads to greater integration of sports betting
  6. Market Opportunities

    • Teams find new uses for arenas
      • Figure 12: Drive-in movies at sports stadiums
    • Brands look to provide tailgating at home
      • Figure 13: Tailgate at home
    • New in-stadium advertising opportunities will be here to stay
      • Figure 14: New tarp and virtual advertising
    • Furthering the fan connection through merchandise
  7. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • State Farm illustrates value of yearlong sports investments
    • Tentpole events require virtual integration
    • DoorDash looks to charitable initiatives to stand out
  8. Competitive Strategies

    • State Farm remains active in sports yearlong
      • Figure 15: State Farm endorsements
    • Tentpole events require virtual integration
    • DoorDash embraces charitable initiatives
      • Figure 16: DoorDash giving back
    • COVID-19 opens doors for new partnerships
      • Figure 17: New MLB and Lysol partnership
  9. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Sports look to appeal to younger fans
    • COVID-19 diminishes fans’ desire to attend games, so sports bring the games to them
    • Give fans more access behind the scenes
    • Create further integrations with the gaming industry
  10. Consumer Trends Impacting Sponsorships and Sports Marketing

    • Experiences
    • Surroundings
    • Rights
    • Wellbeing
    • Technology
  11. Exploring Sports Fans

    • Sports fandom isn’t going away anytime soon
      • Figure 18: Sports fandom and passion, August 2020
    • Closing the women’s sports coverage gap
      • Figure 19: Sports fandom, by gender, August 2020
      • Figure 20: Increased WNBA engagement for 2020 season
      • Figure 21: WNBA coverage in six major US newspapers, September 15 – October 7, 2020
    • Sports will look to further grow the youth fanbase
      • Figure 22: Sports fandom, by generation, August 2020
    • Focus on digital content to appeal to younger fans
      • Figure 23: MLB Postseason ad showcasing young stars
    • New technology will enhance youth sports experiences
      • Figure 24: Interactive sports training technology
  12. The New Fan Experience

    • COVID-19 diminishes fans’ desire to attend games
      • Figure 25: Attitudes toward sports attendance in 2021, August 2020
    • COVID-19 expedites a new sports attendance experience
      • Figure 26: Social distanced seating
    • Technology bridges the gap to connect with fans at home
    • Sports seek to replicate the crowd
      • Figure 27: Cardboard pet fans at Titans game
      • Figure 28: Michelob Ultra courtside virtual fans
  13. Content Fans Want in 2021

      • Figure 29: Desired sports content in 2021, by generation, August 2020
    • Give fans more access behind the scenes
      • Figure 30: Mic’d up Golfers
    • Personalize the fan experience
      • Figure 31: MLB custom highlight creation
  14. Marketing in Sports

    • Sports are a great vehicle across industries to reach consumers
      • Figure 32: Popularity of non-sports brands in sports, August 2020
    • Continued integrations within sports for key category partners
      • Figure 33: Bud Light delivery
    • Increase gaming integration to appeal to younger fans
      • Figure 34: Detroit Lions Animal Crossing integration
    • Tapping into fans’ passion for entertainment
      • Figure 35: Marvel themed promotions
  15. Supporting the Greater Good through Sports

    • Sports will continue to get out the vote
      • Figure 36: NFL get out the vote
    • Giving back locally is needed now more than ever
      • Figure 37: Merchandise to support charity initiatives
    • Sports and social justice are now forever intertwined
  16. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  17. Appendix – Consumer

      • Figure 38: Sports fandom, by race and Hispanic origin, August 2020
      • Figure 39: Sports attitudes, August 2020
      • Figure 40: Entertainment interests outside of sports, August 2020
      • Figure 41: Popularity of non-sports brands in sports, by generation, August 2020
      • Figure 42: Popularity of non-sports brands in sports, by gender, August 2020

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