Top trends that shaped the sports industry


sports industry
A lady wearing VR glasses and enjoying the virtual reality

As per Yahoo finance, the Sports Industry is one of the fastest-growing domains and is projected to hit $599.9 billion by 2025 and $826.0 billion by 2030. As the industry grows, so does the technology surrounding it. There has been a paradigm shift in the advancement of technology, and here are the top trends that have shaped the sports industry that you must be aware of.

  1. Adoption of non-traditional sports-virtual reality and augmented reality
  2. The rise in popularity of Esports
  3. Role of sensors and data analytics
  4. Artificial Intelligence
  5. Blockchain technology in the sports industry
  6. Content delivery – The rise of OTTs
  7. The insane fitness of athletes keeps improving

Adoption of non-traditional sports- Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

Traditional sports across all categories have seen a steady decline over the past few years. The reason was the rise of virtual reality and the current generation’s (GenZ) lack of interest in traditional sports. GenZ’s technically shifted to a more convenient option of enjoying these games virtually that ranges across e-sports and virtual games- thanks to technology.

A lady wearing VR glasses and enjoying the virtual reality
A lady wearing VR glasses and enjoying the virtual reality

Also, the recent lockdowns and restrictions have further accelerated the growth of virtual sports and games, and this poses a challenge to traditional sports to regain their lost traction.  

Also Read: Top Reasons to study Sports Management in 2022

The top virtual reality sports in the current scenario are racing, cycling, tennis, golf, etc.

Advantages of Virtual Sports:

Virtual sports are played via simulation activity where the player need not be physically present. Hence there possess quite a range of benefits, and they are:

  • You can involve yourself in this activity from the comfort of your own home. Zero travel is required and saves you time.
  • No weather disturbances
  • Compete with athletes from all over the world
  • Serotonin boost due to competing on leaderboards and social platforms

The rise in popularity of E-sports

If you belong to GenZ, you must be familiar with E-sports. I only learned about it a few days back and was taken aback by the popularity it had gained amongst the current generation, which is projected to outrank any other form of sports in terms of viewership. 

E-sports and its rising popularity
E-sports and its rising popularity

As per, the sports market was valued at USD 694.2 million in 2017 and is expected to reach USD 2,174.8 million by 2023, at a CAGR of 18.61% between 2018 and 2023. You won’t believe that there are athletes who train 6 to 9 hours a day to participate in e-sports-related events, and they are called e-athletes. They have coaches, strategists, nutritionists, etc., to train them. The prize pools are huge and have become more than just entertainment. As per, the Fortnite World Cup Finals 2019 had a prize pool of USD 15.29 million.

Role of sensors and data analytics

Pictorial representation of vital signs using sensors and data analytics
Pictorial representation of vital signs using sensors and data analytics

Sensors have proven to be a blessing for the sports industry. Its usage has brought out useful insights for the audience as well as the athletes. The data obtained from these sensors will be instrumental in analytics, fan engagement, etc. It is the future of sports analytics and will be revolutionizing the industry for good.

Artificial Intelligence

From the highest form of motorsports racing- Formula 1, to the most-viewed sports in the world- Soccer, artificial intelligence has taken the upper hand when it comes to strategizing, training, advertising, etc. It has also changed the way audiences consume the content.

For example: 

Formula 1 partnered with AWS to provide the audience with critical information related to the car performance, real-time race predictions, internal channel communications, laps left to overtake another competitor, etc., making the viewing experience more exhilarating and fun. This activity is possible due to Amazon’s machine learning algorithm that leverages the data obtained from the 120 sensors from the car and provides processed information to the audience. 

And not only for the audience, but AI plays a primary role in team performance too. The data received from the sensors can be used to track the health of players, performance, any impending injury, etc., and check if there is any room for improvement/ recovery.

Blockchain technology in the sports industry

While this may sound new to many, blockchain technology has slowly taken over almost all forms of sports. The transparency and ease in transactions involved with this technology make it a dealbreaker for many. From pro leagues in America to the Indian Premier League, blockchain technology is everywhere.

The blockchain technology and its usage
The blockchain technology and its usage

Blockchain technology offers lower prices, a faster pace, and strengthened security for transactions carried out. Fans can now invest in clubs/ athletes and increase the fan engagement experience, and at the same time, reap monetary benefits out of it. 

Content delivery- The rise of OTTs

Television has plummeted, and now are the days of online streaming platforms- commonly called OTTs. There are a lot of sports events that are paired up with OTT platforms to be on the same page as the GenZ. The reason is the popularity of OTT and its accessibility. 

Formula 1’s Drive to Survive, Bodybuilding’s Generation Iron, etc., are examples of the sports industry transitioning based on the GenZ’s preferences. Major leagues have also started streaming on OTT platforms to ensure that they hit the right audience at the right time, which helps them gain a considerable amount of market share and viewers.

The insane fitness of athletes keeps improving

As mentioned earlier, the advancement of technology has improved the life and performance of athletes. Athletes are subjected to positive mental health, good food habits, etc., and tracking has never been easier- thanks to sensors and artificial intelligence. 

Monitoring athlete fitness and performance
Monitoring athlete fitness and performance

Athletes are not only training on a physical fitness level but are transitioning their training experience to a whole new spiritual and psychological level. Gene therapy, neuro coaching, sleep management, etc., are the future of athletes and the sports industry. 

While these are just a few that have crossed my mind, there would be for sure many hidden trends that have not been published yet. If you are aware of such trends, do drop them in the comments section.

Concluding thoughts

The sports industry has a lot to offer, and it is just not for the athletes. Yes, you heard it right. You can also be a part of the sports industry on a more management-oriented side. And that is where the Bachelor of Business (Sports Management) by Deakin University, provided in association with the Great Lakes Institute of Management, comes into the picture.

By choosing this program, you get to study on two world-class campuses in two different countries. The offering of work-integrated learning units, assistance in post-study work opportunities in Australia, etc., makes this program a must pursue for the future business professional in you.


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