Technological advances in the past three years have greatly improved the experience for sports fans at home, but have had less impact for those who prefer to go to the stadiums.
This is stated in the latest report by the Capgemini Research Institute titled “A Completely New Game: Why Technology in Sport is Changing the Game”.
In fact, as technology continues to improve and make the viewing experience more engaging, 77% of Gen Z fans and 75% of Millennials say they prefer to watch sports outside the stadiums, compared to 53% of Boomers and 32% of those over 70.
While the excitement of watching live sporting events is still strong for major world tournaments such as the Olympics or the World Cup, the same is not true for regular or domestic league matches.
This change in fan preferences translates into a decrease in visits to sporting events. In Capgemini’s previous 2019 study, 47% of fans globally used to frequently attend sports stadiums, but that number has now dropped to 34%, again creating a significant generation gap.
49% of fans over the age of 70 still go to a stadium frequently, compared to just 17% for Generation Z. This trend is most pronounced in Australia and the UK, where half of people watch live sports more frequently than in 2019, while France and Germany saw a much smaller decline (less than 5 percentage points).
In fact, only 37% of fans globally have visited a stadium in the past 12 months, compared to 80% in 2019. In particular, fans with disabilities are less satisfied with public accessibility measures in stadiums (only 48%), despite their confidence that with appropriate technologies, they will be able to fully access and enjoy sporting events in person.
Mobile devices have come to the fore, but in general they still prefer TV to watch games, indicating that smart devices provide a complementary option to enjoy their favorite sport on the go or in “multiscreen”.
In 2019, only 40% of fans would have preferred watching games via smartphone screens, while today that percentage is 70% (especially the surprising 78% of Gen Z and 74% of Millennials).
Streaming platforms, as well as social networks, have recorded an increase in audience interest: in 2019, only 39% of fans stated that streaming platforms were their preferred choice for watching sports.
Today, that number has nearly doubled to 75%. In terms of social networks, the percentage has increased from 44% in 2019 to 64% today, driven by the younger generations.
According to the report, fans are finding their smartphones a good way to improve their game viewing experience, whether at home or on the field. Over two-thirds of fans (68%) used a mobile device to receive static information about the game or players while watching it live, and 65% to watch 360-degree video replays.
68% of fans would also like to try using their mobile device to get player info, live stats, etc. while on the field, using augmented reality.
Finally, viewers will also be interested in sports-enhanced experiences, as they are in the metaverse. Two-thirds of them, for example, would be interested in purchasing digital items to show off in virtual worlds (66%) or attending matches and connecting with fans or players in a virtual sports arena (64%).
“Over the past few years, the way we can consume sport has completely changed,” says Pascal Brier, Capgemini’s chief innovation officer and member of the group’s executive committee.
The report also reveals that in addition to the growing role of technology in sports in recent years, there is a growing interest in watching sports matches among women and sustainability among sports fans.
Two-thirds of those surveyed are interested in seeing more women’s matches in the disciplines they are interested in, and would also like to see equal opportunities and resources available for female athletes.
For some sports, such as swimming, basketball, tennis, and the Paralympics, viewership ratings for the men’s and women’s matches are similar, with many viewers choosing to watch both. In sports such as basketball (+34%), baseball (+20%) and American football (+28%), the report reveals a significant increase in the number of viewers who chose to watch men’s and women’s matches compared to 2019. As for tennis, the report indicated that audiences for women’s matches increased by 10%.