COVID-19 & Fan Engagement: Changing needs of Rights Owners

COVID-19 has played havoc with the live sports events calendar globally. The SportsTech Match team has compiled this overview of the fan engagement solutions market to help sports rights owners, agencies and brands to discover the right technology solutions to drive their fan engagement strategies in the context of COVID-19.

To find the right technology solutions for your use case submit your requirements by answering a few short questions (takes less than 5 minutes) and our team will send you a matching report with details of the best solutions for you.

Photo Credit: New York Magazine


Engaging Fans At Home

Introduction To The Fan Engagement Sector

Fan Engagement Topics During COVID-19

COVID-19 Use Cases And Buyers Of Fan Engagement Solutions

Choosing The Best Fan Engagement Solutions For Your Needs

1. Engaging Fans At Home

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit sports hard. A study commissioned by ESPN estimated that the cost to sport could be as much as USD12 billion across professional, college and youth sports. The entire value chain has been impacted.

Like never before, sports rights owners are trying to find new ways to engage and monetise fans stuck at home, both on matchdays and non-matchdays, and compensate for a loss in traditional revenue sources.

2. Introduction To The Fan Engagement Sector

At SportsTech Match, we have mapped the fan engagement eco-system which includes hundreds of solutions across four sub-sectors:

  • Data & Insight: Solutions designed to leverage data to improve sports’ relationship with fans.

  • Content Production & Distribution: Solutions that focus on facilitating content production and/or content distribution to an end-point (such as a widget or video player embedded on social media or an owned and operated platform).

  • Owned & Operated Platforms: Solutions focussed on building end-to-end OTT / digital platforms with multiple purposes that are frequently customised to the buyers requirements.

  • Fan Activation Solutions: Solutions with a one or a small number of core features built solely for the purpose of activating and animating fans.

3. Fan Engagement Topics During COVID-19

Data & Insight

  • Getting to know the remote fan: It has never been more important to invest in fan relationship management (FRM). COVID-19 has ushered in a period where sports teams are unable to welcome fans into venues and now need to sustain a digital-driven relationship. This presents opportunities for the sports rights owners with the culture and infrastructure to support FRM and an appetite to manage the value they can provide to each fan over the fans' lifetime.

Content Production & Distribution

  • Remote production in the cloud: One of the stand-out topics of the pandemic has been the shift from on-site to remote production. Broadcasters have produced premium content from their laptops at home using cloud-based production tools which have all the security and collaborative convenience offered by sophisticated editing suites.

  • Surge in sports streaming consumption: The pandemic has increased our consumption of streamed content. According to Conviva, the return of professional sports in Europe resulted in a 24 per cent increase in sports streaming viewing time. The rise of esports as an alternative to postponed or cancelled traditional sports events has also fuelled the streaming boom. Pay-per-view is becoming a critical component for many leagues and teams to replace lost ticketing revenues.

Owned & Operated Platforms

  • Build your digital stadium and they will come: There has never been a more important time to take care of the basics. As fans rely even more so on digital platforms for their sports fix, many sports rights owners are investing in building out their owned and operated platforms (particularly website and mobile app). Fans remain loyal to social media (social media engagement increased by 30% across all teams, including league accounts according to Conviva), but the data and insights generated from hosting fans in your own digital platforms are becoming more important than ever as the basis to generate new digital revenue streams.

Fan Activation Solutions

  • Audio solutions are booming: COVID-19 has reinforced the importance of crowd noise and support as a fundamental part of the sports event experience. Some companies have fast-tracked the development of solutions specifically to solve these challenges posed by the pandemic.

  • Watching sport together: Remote “watch together” and “fan wall” solutions have become an essential tool to bring fans together again, albeit virtually. Observing the reactions of fans featured on fan walls has also become somewhat of a spectator sport in itself.

4. COVID-19 Use Cases And Buyers Of Fan Activation Solutions

COVID-19 has forced sports teams and broadcasters to re-engineer the relationship with fans more than most other sports stakeholders. Below we focus on the most important use cases for which these two groups typically need solutions in this “new normal”...


Teams have typically been seeking solutions to keep fans connected with their players focusing on ensuring fans can still demonstrate their support as the “12th man”. As mentioned above, audio solutions have become more popular as well as “fan wall” solutions (projecting supporters faces onto the giant screen or temporary screens around the field of play).

Teams have also been seeking ways to monetise fans digitally and typically this has involved charging (pay-per-view or subscriptions) for live streamed content. Esports content has provided a much needed boost to teams (and others in the sports eco-system) during the pandemic. Crowdfunding / donations platforms have also been increasingly leveraged by lower tier leagues and teams.


Broadcasters are typically looking for the best solutions to drive remote production (and in turn reduce the number of staff required on-site). Cloud-based production systems have increased in importance during the peak months of the pandemic. They are also looking for creative audio solutions to fill the atmosphere void left by empty stadia.

Furthermore, broadcasters, led by an emerging generation of OTT platforms, are accelerating the shift towards putting the fan in control of the viewing experience (e.g. giving the fan the option to select audio or camera angles, 360 degree experiences, etc) as well as facilitating “watch together” experiences.

5. Choosing The Best Fan Engagement Solutions For Your Needs

Are you experiencing challenges to engage your fans as a result of the pandemic? At SportsTech Match, we’ve already done the research for you, so you don’t have to spend hours or days searching the internet for the right solution.

Submit your requirements by answering a few short questions (takes less than 5 minutes), and our team will send you a matching report with details of the best fan engagement solutions that match your requirements.

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