Will the return of sports bring a bonanza for retail?
All of the major sports leagues will be resuming play over the next two months, promising to deliver a frenzy of action and intrigue.
Beyond the pent up demand for live sports, which are returning for the first time since mid-March, fan frenzy should build quickly as leagues are coming back with shortened seasons that will speedily ramp up to playoff runs.
The question of whether teams can avoid spikes in coronavirus cases that may derail comebacks, however, is causing concern. Leagues are taking extraordinary measures to keep players safe, including rules changes, playing games without fans and extensive safety protocols for players. The NBA in early July sent 22 teams to quarantine at Walt Disney World near Orlando with the two finalists required to stay in the “bubble” until the playoffs wrap up in early October.
For marketers, the absence of fans in the stands means more home viewing and a chance to revive TV’s sagging ad sales. Strong ratings seen for ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary, “The Last Dance,” as well for the return of NASCAR races and the PGA Tour, provide some encouragement. Jeremy Carey, managing director of Optimum Sports, told Adweek, “Everything points to a consumer audience that’s just starving for competition.”
Some experimental approaches are also being promised to engage home viewers. A survey from mid-June commissioned by the sports marketing agency Genesco Sports Enterprises showed a high interest in virtual reality viewing (74 percent), second screen content (66 percent) and live social media integration in the broadcast (64 percent).
No tailgating in parking lots likewise means grocers will have a bigger opportunity to feed sports fans at home. According to the Genesco Sports’ survey, 76 percent of fans are interested in bringing the tailgate home.
“As we’re now more home-oriented, homegating will be on the rise, leading to more chips, soda, and beer being sold,” said John Tatum, CEO at Genesco Sports. “In my 30+ year career in sports, I’ve never seen a greater opportunity for brands to directly engage with fans where they live.”
- After Survey: Sports with Empty Stadiums Means Millions of Americans Will Be Engaging from Home – Genesco Sports Enterprises/PRNewswire
- As Baseball and Other Sports Set Return, TV Eagerly Awaits Ad Revenue Influx – Adweek
- NBA 2019-20 season restart in Orlando: All you need to know from teams, new key dates, schedule, medical protocols and more – NBA
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see a huge marketing and merchandising opportunity for retailers with the return of live sports and where should retailers focus their energy? Do the unique circumstances lend themselves to creative approaches from retailers and brands?