We asked industry leaders about the outlook and priorities for institutional investors within sport. We were interested in whether the growing appetite for investing in sport will continue and what opportunities may (or may not) exist for sports organisations. We also explored the key elements of value creation yet to be unlocked within the industry, as well as the downside risks that come with changing ownership structures.
Overall, the insights gathered suggest that institutional investment will continue to increase, buoyed by the assumed growth of media rights revenues and the resilience of consumer demand for sports content. The survey results also show fears of an inflection point between investors and the sports organisations they acquire. Whilst institutional investment holds the key to unlocking value for many sports properties, it can also lead to tension and misalignment amongst shareholder groups, organisations and fans.
In the last few years, we have witnessed the rise of women’s sports across the world and the staging of exciting major events (e.g. UEFA’s Women’s Euro 2022 and the Women’s Rugby World Cup). Furthermore, this year’s survey data indicates that executives see women’s sports as a key growth opportunity.
In this section, we discuss the most impactful initiatives contributing to the growth of women’s sports and ask how this growth can be accelerated. We propose that significantly increased media coverage can set a powerful flywheel in motion and that getting stakeholders to move simultaneously rather than sequentially is critical to advance women’s sports. Finally, we highlight the unique benefits that women’s sports can offer to partners through unique storytelling opportunities and original partnership approaches.
In recent years, we have seen the commercial and media landscape in sport change as new players and technologies have emerged. We have also observed increasing demand for fan data and the digital inventory of sports organisations. While in the sports media space big tech companies have become more active, OTT platforms have grown, and Direct-to-Consumer models have become more common.
This year’s survey focused on understanding how sports media rights distribution will evolve further and how the expectations of brands that partner with sports organisations will also adapt. Our respondents identified the growing influence of big tech and OTT platforms as well as the importance access to fan data, increased digital inventory and co-creation opportunities. These views are explored further within our analysis as we look to better understand the future commercial and media landscape in sport.
Building on a better understanding of sustainability issues such as climate change and the growing expectations of key stakeholders, sports organisations have made progress in developing strategies and moving towards more balanced Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) delivery. This year’s survey reveals that over half of respondents believe they are advanced in their approaches to ESG. However, there remains significant room for improvement once short-term initiatives are implemented (e.g. environmental sustainability or diversity and inclusion).
In this section, we look at how advanced sports organisations are on their ESG journey, with a better understanding of their priorities. We also examine the biggest challenges for sports organisations in successfully implementing a comprehensive ESG strategy. Finally, we ask what measures will have the biggest impact to ensure major sporting events become more sustainable.
Web3 is the evolution of Web2 and another building block in a sports organisation’s digital ecosystem. Based on blockchain technology, Web3 offers new and emerging opportunities to create digital assets that can be owned, used and traded (e.g. ticketing, memberships, collectibles, loyalty points and digital game items).
In this section we look at how advanced Web3 concepts are within sports organisations, including the degree to which organisations are building the technology into their longterm strategic thinking and execution capabilities. Our analysis reveals that although blockchain-based business models are being tentatively explored and implemented, many organisations are adopting a wait-and-see approach. In this context respondents’ viewpoints are underpinned by concerns regarding the business case for digital assets (underpinned by sports fan demand) and the required technical expertise and infrastructure.
Investment in smart venue technology is a growing consideration for sports organisations. “Smart stadia” refers to technology that enhances the event experience for both fans and organisers, including everything from large-screen visual displays to digital ticketing, personalised F&B offerings and “digital twins” of physical spaces. But as you would expect, this technology comes at a cost.
This section of the survey delves into the cost-benefit analyses being undertaken by sports organisations as we assess the choices available and the business case for smart stadia. Survey respondents clearly identify the benefits of the technology: increased fan engagement, enhanced data collection, operational efficiency and commercial opportunity. However, for many these benefits do not stack up against the obvious costs and risks associated with such a significant investment.
Director Advisory, Strategy and Digital Change Expert, Bern, Bern, PwC Switzerland
+41 58 792 77 51
Partner, Risk Consulting TIS (Trade, Industry, Services) & Internal Audit, PwC Switzerland
+41 79 816 27 00