Nielsen Sports 2020 Commercial Trends


The tectonic plates – economic, technological and behavioral – which underlie the media and entertainment industries and have provided the bedrock upon which the sports industry has enjoyed decades of growth, show no signs of shifting as we move deeper into 2020.
Economic Expansion
On a macro-economic level, the expansion of the middle class – and, with it, greater consumer spending power – continues in Africa, India, China, and parts of Asia and Latin America. This year, we’re also bracing ourselves for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics – arguably the biggest sporting event in the world.
Technological Advancement
On a technological level, the continued global roll-out of broadband internet and super-fast mobile networks will increase the number of people around the world who can enjoy high-quality streaming services. There are still big variations in penetration between countries, but overall, the room for growth is still significant.
Behavioral Impact
On a behavioral level, younger people are increasingly dependent on their phones, spending more time on connected devices with an almost infinite amount of content to choose from. However, as the world becomes increasingly fragmented, the value of the shared experience – real, authentic experience – increases. Live events, whether in sport or music, are at the top of that value pyramid.
While the underlying picture for the sports industry is one of growth, there is no doubt that business models which have delivered profits in the last couple of decades will continue to come under pressure. For any business whose margins depend on selling people things they don’t want, the game is up.
Sport governing bodies will be increasingly expansionist, but their ambitions will accelerate disputes between stakeholders over control of competitions, formats and revenue distribution.
In the US, the media rights to the NHL, MLB and NFL will be sold again in 2021. With negotiations likely to be already underway in 2020, this year could be a watershed for media, heralding a shift from national exploitation of content rights to full global strategies.

Key topics to watch out for as the year unfolds:

  • Hyper-Competitive Attention Economy
  • Media Landscape Disruption
  • Beyond Millennials and Capturing the Attention of Gen Z
  • New Content Creators
  • Sports Marketing in the 2020s

Want to know more?

We interviewed industry executives from brands, media and rights holders around the world, and cross-referenced with input from our own experts to present an outline of the most important broad trends shaping the sports business landscape.

If you would like to know more about the ever-changing sponsorship landscape and the impact these trends will have on your business, complete the form and we’ll be in touch to provide you with the details.

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