The world of sports is changing. As attention spans dwindle and more games are placed behind paywalls, administrators, leagues and clubs around the world are looking at changes they can make to attract new followers and increase their appeal.
With this in mind, here are three sports that are making major changes and adapting in an increasingly challenging landscape.
Rugby Union: Merging Markets and Growing a Wider Appeal
As the latest edition of the Rugby World Cup is showing, rugby is becoming an increasingly global sport. With national sides regularly competing against each other in competitions like the Six Nations and The Rugby Championship, teams at the regional and local level are now also looking at ways they can get experience against teams from different parts of the world.
Similarly, rugby administrators are looking at how domestic clubs can bolster their brand while also growing the appeal of the game. As a result, the United Rugby Championship was recently created. This new competition sees teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales compete against each other to win the ultimate prize. As well as providing increased competition for these teams, the new tournament will help the game attract new fans and followers in different parts of the world.
Soccer: Taking Teams on Tour
The Premier League is one of the greatest and most popular sporting competitions in the world. However, because all of the games are played inside the UK, some clubs have experienced trouble connecting with international fan bases and tapping into new markets.
For this reason, although all Premier League games are still played within the UK, most clubs now embark on overseas tours whenever possible. Prior to the season, many now tour either the United States (like Newcastle, Chelsea and Fulham did this year), or instead embark on a trip to Asia and Australia (like Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham did). Then, in the mid-season break, lots of clubs tour the Middle East for a ‘warm weather training camp’. This way, they can keep their domestic fans happy while also growing their brand internationally.
Cricket: Creating a New Format
Cricket’s approach to generating growth is unique: the sport has created an entirely new format in order to appeal to a new generation of fans.
If you know cricket, you’ll know there are three main formats: Test cricket, one day internationals (ODIs) and T20s. There are also a couple of minor forms of the game, such as T10s.
However, over in England, the birthplace of the sport, a new hundred-ball format has been created. The hope that his abridged version of the game, known as The Hundred, will attract non-traditional fans, such as women and children. To make this more likely, the competition takes place in the peak of the school holidays.
This move has upset many traditional fans of the game, who expect international cricket to be played during this time. However, so far, the tournament has largely been successful. This is partially because the competition brokered a deal with the BBC, meaning many games are shown on terrestrial television.
All three of these sports are trialing innovative solutions that will hopefully inspire a new generation of fans – let’s hope they’re successful and the sports flourish in the years to come.