We compiled the top 2024 fan engagement trends from around the web, including IMG’s Digital Trends Report 2024, Sports Business Journal, and SBC News. We break down the biggest developments that will influence the sports media landscape for sports brands and organizations, along with how they’ll engage fans and audiences over the next 12 months.
AI: more than a chat tool
On the fan side, AI-powered algorithms are learning to personalize the experience, tailoring content like merchandise recommendations and game highlights to individual preferences. Imagine a world where your favorite team uses AI to analyze your data, suggest behind-the-scenes footage, or predict which games you’d love to attend.
But AI’s impact goes beyond just keeping fans happy. It’s also helping teams optimize their operations, identify new revenue streams, develop new and innovative content formats, and gain a competitive edge. For example, AI can analyze vast amounts of data to improve ticket sales and pricing strategies, or even predict player performance and injuries. This valuable information allows teams to make smarter decisions and achieve greater success.
Redefining the fan experience with smart stadiums
2024 promises to be the year of the smart stadium, where innovative technologies elevate the fan experience beyond the game itself. Gone are the days of passive spectating; stadiums are transforming into tech hubs buzzing with interactivity. Think AI-powered crowd analysis gauging excitement levels, personalized AR replays on smartphones, and instant food delivery via drones. These are just a glimpse into the immersive experience smart stadiums offer.
This shift isn’t solely fan-driven, but it’s also a win for teams. Smart stadiums bring increased revenue through targeted advertising, streamlined operations, and deeper fan connections. Data analysis helps tailor sponsorship deals, while contactless transactions and improved efficiency cut costs. Fans, meanwhile, are treated to a multi-layered experience that extends beyond the field, building a stronger emotional bond with their favorite teams.
(Left) Tottenham Hotspur Stadium: The first 100% cashless stadium in the UK; (Middle) San Francisco 49ers: Using technology to help fans locate their designated parking spots through in-app directions; (Right) Las Vegas Sphere: Gives visitors the ability to enter a virtual environment and generate an avatar.
Personalization becomes the playground for sports fans
Hyper-personalized fan experiences that revolutionize how fans consume sports will be the norm. This isn’t just a trend; it’s a survival tactic. To captivate Gen Z and Alpha generations, accustomed to algorithms curating their worlds, sports organizations need to ditch one-size-fits-all and embrace micro-experiences.
Imagine AI crafting highlight reels of your favorite plays, live commentary in your language, and VR replays letting you step onto the field. It’s not just a pipe dream, platforms like YouTube and TikTok are setting the bar for this level of customization. Sports organizations can learn from this playbook by investing in martech (marketing technology) and building robust data ecosystems, allowing them to create dynamic ticket packages based on past attendance, preferred players, and stadium amenities.
Women’s sports command center stage
In 2024, women’s sports are poised to continue the upward trajectory observed in recent years, building on the record-breaking viewership achieved in 2023. Brands are taking notice of the passionate, digital-savvy fans who actively seek out content and build online communities. Data suggests that fans of women’s sports will overindex on the support of brands that commit to it. For example, Michelob Ultra found that fans of women’s sports are 30% more likely to engage with their brand than fans of men’s sports. Another example is that streaming platforms saw a 20% spending boost from fans of women’s sports compared to fans of men’s sports.
The key changes we expect to see in 2024 are that investment in women’s sports will continue. In 2023, we saw the groundbreaking partnership between Ally Financial and Disney, offering a multi-million-dollar sponsorship package aimed at expanding coverage and growing the audience for women’s sports. The LPGA’s record-breaking 2024 schedule with more events across the world and a prize fund of more than $118 million is another example of how women’s sports will continue to reach new heights in 2024.
As the momentum behind women’s sports continues, 2024 promises accelerated progress through the digital cycle of reach, engagement, and monetization, potentially outpacing the trajectory observed in men’s sports.
We’re beyond “social” media now
In 2024, forward-thinking sports organizations won’t simply “do social media”; they’ll craft bespoke fan experiences across a carefully curated ecosystem of platforms that deliver value where fans actually are. Fans aren’t simply scrolling feeds; they’re diving deep into niche communities, consuming tailored content, and forging connections around shared passions. This shift requires a fundamental rethink of how sports organizations engage with fans.
Instead of chasing ephemeral “likes” on traditional platforms, the future lies in platforms built for specific fandoms. Think of niche communities on Discord, in-depth discussions on Reddit, or exclusive content drops on WhatsApp channels. Consider Spotify playlists curated by athletes or VR experiences that let fans step onto the field. It’s all about hyper-targeting and deep engagement within relevant spaces.
This doesn’t mean abandoning established giants like Facebook or Instagram. These platforms still hold value for their broad reach and brand awareness. But their role changes—they become part of a strategic mix, not the sole focus. The “classic quartet” (X, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok) may remain vital for some, while others find their sweet spot in the likes of YouTube, Spotify, and Discord.
The rise of the mega influencer
2024 will see the rise of the mega influencer: celebrities whose impact transcends fleeting likes and ignites long-term fandom. These are no longer just endorsements; they’re strategic partnerships for sustainable growth.
In the past year, we saw Cristiano Ronaldo join the Saudi Pro League and boost their revenue by 650%; Lionel Messi go to Major League Soccer and double the number of MLS Season Pass subscribers on Apple TV; and Taylor Swift start dating the Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce resulting in Sunday Night Football ratings increasing by over 50% with female viewers under the age of 18 during the Chiefs-Jets game in October.
In 2024, sports organizations will need to redefine “influencer”. It’s no longer about quick wins; it’s about authentic connections between influencers and the organization’s fans.
Forget long-term wagers on who wins; 2024 is all about microbetting. Think of lightning-fast bets on the next point scored, the next play in a football game, or even the athlete about to score the next basket. It’s not just about instant gratification; it’s about redefining fan engagement with real-time video streaming and low-risk stakes.
That’s the thrill of microbetting—hyper-focused wagers that keep you glued to the action, making every moment a potential win.
The implications are huge. Microbetting opens the door to new demographics, attracting casual fans with its low entry point and constant engagement. It fosters a sense of community, with shared thrills and cheers erupting at every micro-victory. And for operators, it’s a golden opportunity to boost revenue and create personalized, data-driven experiences.
A new way to stream and watch sports
Traditional broadcasting is still working to find its place in the world of the streaming revolution. Streaming is focused on convenience and personalized experiences. It’s about redefining how we experience sports, and fans are taking center stage, demanding personalized experiences and deeper engagement.
In 2024, you’ll notice more major leagues and clubs are launching their own streaming services vs. the cable bundle for direct-to-consumer (D2C) options. This enables them to create exclusive content, behind-the-scenes access, and interviews with your favorite stars. This forges deeper connections with fans and unlocks new revenue streams.
Sports platforms are evolving into vibrant communities. From things like offering AR workouts led by your favorite athletes to interactive gaming experiences alongside real-world matches, it’s about fostering shared passions and building lasting connections that extend far beyond the final whistle.
2024 is all about tailoring experiences to each fan. Data and AI are the secret weapons, delivering hyper-personalized experiences that make you feel like part of the action.
About Data Skrive
Data Skrive is revolutionizing how the world’s leading sports, media, and betting brands drive fan engagement through online content. With our nationwide Fan Engagement Network, sponsors can directly interact with sports fans through captivating, relevant, and SEO-friendly content that fosters loyalty, encourages repeat visits, and improves engagement. For more information, email us at email@example.com. For press inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.