Sports industry: bouncing back

PwC’s Global Sports Survey (7th edition)

This year’s PwC's Global Sports Survey was completed by over 500 sports leaders from across 43 countries. The focus of this edition was on the current state and future direction of the sports industry, sports investment, women’s sports, commercial and media landscape, sustainability in sports, Web3 in sports and smart stadia.

The survey data shows that the sports industry is bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic and that there is a growing optimism and confidence within the industry. Despite the current global macroeconomic headwinds, the outlook for sports organisations appears positive. Growth estimates have returned to pre-pandemic levels across all major revenue streams and there is excitement at the trajectory of Women’s sport, the widening participation of Big Tech and the growing levels of institutional investors within the industry.

In addition, the survey findings indicate an increasing prominence of sustainability on sport’s strategic agendas, a growing, albeit cautious focus on Web3 and the continued, smart stadia-led developments in enhanced fan experience.

Overall, this report highlights some of the main opportunities and challenges currently facing sports executives as the sports industry continues to evolve.

Download the survey

Explore the key trends shaping the sports industry

Sports investment: increased activity levels from institutional investors

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.

Image: Sports investment

Women’s sport: from intermittent gusts to gale force wind in the sails of women’s sports

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.

Image: Women's sport

Commercial and media landscape: data is the new currency for brand partnerships

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.

Image: Commercial and media landscape

Sustainability in sports: ESG continues its rise as a major strategic priority

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.

Image: Sustainability in sports

Web3 in sports: it’s still early to join the Web3 party

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.

Image: Web3

Smart stadia: getting an ROI from data is a challenge

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.

Image: Smart stadia

Our sports experts

Reto Brunner

Partner, Advisory, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 14 19


Bogdan Sutter

Director Advisory, Strategy and Digital Change Expert, Bern, Bern, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 77 51


Shin A. Szedlak

Manager, Advisory, Bern, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 78 15


Antonia Kühne

Senior Associate, Advisory, Zürich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 15 65


Jessy Nützi

Associate, Advisory, Bern, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 78 72


Szergej Maszlov

Manager, Advisory, Zürich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 21 23


Claudio Prante

Partner, Head of Deals Strategy, Sustainability Leader in Deals, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 47 14


Stuart Woodcock

Director, Advisory, Zürich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 14 71


Patrick Balkanyi

Partner and Leader Swiss GAAP FER, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 26 76


Thibaut De Haller

Partner Tax, PwC Switzerland

+41 79 682 44 52


Myriam Denk

Partner, People and Organisation, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 26 53


Richard Thomas

Partner, Risk Consulting TIS (Trade, Industry, Services) & Internal Audit, PwC Switzerland

+41 79 816 27 00


Denis Weber

Senior Manager, Advisory, Zürich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 27 12



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Contact us

Shin A. Szedlak

Shin A. Szedlak

Manager, Advisory, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 78 15