How Social Media Has Influenced the Sports Industry

One of the significant phenomena impacting the world is free access to the internet. Social media is one of the mostly used internet service, which occurs in varying forms like blogs, photo-sharing platforms, business networks, forums, chat apps, social gaming, etc. The sports industry has experienced a massive revolution ever since the social media became popular over 10 years ago.

The influence of social networking is so powerful that the number of users using social media is expected to reach about 3.02 billion by 2021 – that’s about one-third of the Earth’s population. In the United States, about 81% of citizens had a social networking profile in 2017.

User engagement continues to increase on networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. On average, internet users all over the world spend more than two hours every day on these sites.

In 2015, the sports industry fully embraced social media. These networks have provided a platform for sports fans to connect with their favorite clubs and athletes, a privilege which was unheard of a decade ago.

Previously, sports lovers could only pick from a few channels to watch a game, and missing a big game for any reason would mean they’ll have to get results the next day from newspapers or friends. Now, technological advancements have made it possible for them to never miss a major match.

According to data we found at BettingSites’ blog, about 61% of sports viewers follow sports online, and the number of fans viewing sports content from their smart devices increased from 21% in 2013 to 39% in 2016.

The transition from traditional media outlets to social media has affected many media organizations negatively. For example, ESPN lost more than 621,000 viewers in 2016. This translates to a loss of about $52 million in revenue. Further projections show that by 2022, the company is expected to lose additional 12 million subscribers.

Below are the ways social media has impacted positively on the sports industry.

Increased Revenue for Brands

Athletes with large followings on social media have become digital assets for major brands. Brands like Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Lexus, and Gatorade have begun to use sports stars as their brand ambassadors because of the massive number of followers they got on their channels.

For example, Juventus’ player Cristiano Ronaldo has over 130 million followers on Instagram and about 122 million fans on Facebook. All of Ronaldo’s social media channels were worth about $500 million to Nike in 2016. The superstar also has a $1 billion lifetime deal with the brand.

Sports Campaigns for Awareness

With social media, news can be spread faster as all it takes is a retweet, share, or repost for information to be passed around. This has made popular brands use social media in their sports campaigns to generate awareness on essential topics.

In 2012, a social media campaign promoting women athletes used the hashtag #Maketherules and was tweeted by 96 sports stars bringing about 11.5 million followers.

Also, in 2015, the #ThisGirlCan campaign was carried out by English Sports Council to encourage women all over the UK to break through the lifestyle and social barriers associated with getting fit. The campaign resulted in 8 million views.

Increased Revenue for Clubs

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the most popular platforms for sports fans to follow their favorite clubs or teams and also stay informed on the latest news updates and results.

For example, on Facebook, Real Madrid Football Club has the largest fan base totaling over 108 million, while Barcelona Football Club is the second most followed team with around 103 million fans.

Soccer clubs receive an average of €10 as revenue for every social media follower they have. Videos on social media of Premier league clubs have generated about $112 million for their kit supplier brands – Chevrolet (Manchester United), Etihad (Manchester City), Yokohama (Chelsea), and Betway (West Ham).

Wrapping Up

The rise of social media will continue to redefine how sports fans access sports content. With social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter continually releasing new content strategies, traditional media organizations are becoming less relevant. In the coming years, we can expect athletes, teams, and brands to go live on these networks with content to create an increased interactive experience for their fans.

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