Emerging technologies biggest cause for optimism in PwC’s Sports Survey 2019

Esports and enhanced digital media offerings are among the biggest growth areas for sport over the coming years, according to the fourth annual edition of  PwC’s Sports Survey.

The professional services firm’s study, which polled 590 senior executives and leaders from across the global sports business, assesses the opportunities and challenges the sector is likely to face over the coming years, and paints a “fundamentally optimistic” picture of the industry.

Most prominently, respondents to the survey held that esports represents the biggest single opportunity for revenue growth.  The ‘action and fantasy’ and ‘simulated sports’ genres of videogames occupied the top two spots for growth by sport, ahead of football and basketball in third and fourth. 

Following on from the inaugural World Urban Games in Budapest over the weekend, urban sports completes the top five, with 53.3 per cent of those surveyed saying that the category had either ‘above average’ or ‘very high’ revenue growth potential.

Digital media rights are expected to act as the key driver for the industry over the next three to five years, with the survey predicting growth in that sector of 9.7 per cent. Its value is underscored by the expected growth of just 1.9 per cent for traditional and linear sports media rights.

Similarly, while 65.6 per cent of respondents see the shift away from traditional TV consumption as the biggest threat to the industry, 82.4 per cent believe that enhanced media offerings such as OTT distribution platforms and virtual and augmented reality technology represents a major growth opportunity. 

Innovations to improve fan engagement came out on top as the number one opportunity for revenue growth across all sports.

While global growth is expected to slow slightly – with overall market growth of 6.4 per cent forecast, against 7.4 per cent over the past three to five years – that is largely attributed to saturation in the mature markets of Australia, Europe and North America. Other markets are expected to see significant growth, particularly Africa and South America, projected to expand by 9.1 per cent and 10.3 per cent respectively over the next three to five years.