New TSC research unit details disconnect between sport and host cities

The Sports Consultancy (TSC) has launched SEER, a unit which the agency claims is the first research and intelligence body to focus solely on the sport and entertainment sector.

SEER has launched with a report examining the relationship between sport and host cities. Disconnected – Misalignment in sport’s most important relationship reveals that government and host cities’ objectives from hosting major sports events have significantly changed in the last decade.

The majority of major events owners are found to have not recognised or kept pace with this change, which SEER states risks their continued ability to return on objectives or investment. The Covid-19 pandemic will serve to exacerbate this problem as governmental priorities such as public health move up the public policy agenda.

SEER surveyed over 70 major event rights-holders and major event hosts, including senior representatives from international federations, private event rights-holders, and governmental/public sector hosting organisations around the world.

The key findings of SEER’s report include that whilst 71 per cent of rights-holders consider themselves very aware of their hosts’ objectives, only two per cent of hosts believe that this is the case.

For 56 per cent of hosts, environmental sustainability of events is one of the most important considerations in their decisions to support events. However, only 17 per cent of event rights owners believe they deliver on this promise.

Some 76 per cent of hosts believe social impact for the local community is one of the fastest growing considerations when making decisions to invest in events. Only 29 per cent of rights-holders believe their events deliver health and wellbeing benefits to a great extent, while 53 per cent of hosts hold health and wellbeing impact as a very important objective of hosting.

The report details that rights-holders and hosts are aligned on the importance and future growth of women’s events. Hosts ranked women’s sports events the third-most important event category to their future portfolios, while rights-holders put them second only to esports events in terms of their upward trajectory over coming years. Hosts believe women’s events require the lowest levels of host investment from any sport, while also delivering low economic ROI but high return on objective.

While esports are the No.1 growing event category according to rights-holders, the report states cities currently do not see value in hosting them, ranking them 15th for their importance to their future portfolios.

The value of ‘mega events’ is also a source of disagreement, with 40 per cent of rights-holders putting them on a general upward trajectory. By contrast, 11 per cent of cities rate them highly in terms of ROI and ranked them higher than any other event category for future growth in required host investment.

Finally, 50 per cent of rights-holders said a host’s ability to pay a hosting fee was one of the top three traits of an ‘ideal’ host and 76 per cent expect their hosting fees to rise in the future. For cities, 77 per cent say high hosting fees are one of the biggest challenges to hosting events.

Angus Buchanan, TSC managing director and SEER lead, said: “Since 2005 we have been working with rights-holders and host cities around the world focusing on this central relationship which we believe is overlooked in terms of the importance of this key investor group. Never in that time have the two sides been further apart than they are today and conversations in the last couple of months only intensify this.

“We have created our new research and intelligence unit, SEER, to examine and address some of the key challenges affecting the sports and entertainment industry. We want to use SEER to challenge assumptions and provide solutions to fundamental issues facing the sector using sound data analysis and insight. We are now working on further reports we’re excited to bring to market in the coming months.”