Havas S+E Report Identifies Five Major Focus Areas For Disruption

Havas Sports & Entertainment has published its annual trends predictions for 2017 that anticipate major developments in the business of sport. The trends cover five major focus areas for disruption: sport for the sharing generation (all things social), data and technology, new media, do the right thing (integrity) and an in-depth look at eSports. The predictions are from Havas experts as well as external contributors from YouTube, Fnatic, Vivendi, Newzoo, SKINS, Y Sport and BRaVe Ventures.

“With a big year for sport almost behind us, we’ve seen record engagement around live events and sports content, whether it be the Euro, Olympics, or eSports, with social channels buzzing with conversations, content creation and sharing. We see social continue to change the game; eSports become mainstream; AI and startups become viable disruptors; and integrity and women in sport as priorities for the industry,”  says Fredda Hurwitz, Global Chief Strategy Officer at Havas Sports & Entertainment.

Sports for the Sharing Generation:

Getting Millennials into the Games: In response to millennials’ declining interest in the Games, rights holders and their partners are rethinking how to package sports content, offering more individualised ways for this audience to participate actively in the Olympic story. 

Social Media is Changing the Game: Social platforms are shaping how fans engage with their sports passion, becoming the place to access sports content.


The Next Big Youth Sport: Move over basketball – eSports has the potential to become the next big youth sport, offering physical activity whilst teaching about leadership, teamwork, and strategy, at scale and a fraction of the cost.  With annual growth at +40% and a growing fanbase of 150m, eSports is set to explode globally, thanks to structured competitions, new professional teams, and TV broadcasting. A good bet for investors and sponsors.

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet: The hottest trends to watch: outside investment and purchases of teams, a more mainstream eSports offering on TV, improvement in stats and analytics, and the publisher Blizzard and the evolution around its games.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger: In 2019, the global eSports audience will grow to 215m and $1.1bn in revenues. eSports enthusiasts represent a valuable target for brands as millennials switch from sports to eSports.

Human After All: Access to data in eSports is much easier, faster and bigger as so much of the action is online. Thanks to data about player/viewer behaviour, the gaming experience can become more personalised while analytics can help predict who will win. Opportunities abound for brands to create meaningful experiences for fans.

Retired at 25: eSports players are starting to retire, mostly in their mid-20s. Support for retired players is sparse, and brands have an opportunity to fill the void 

Go Forth & Create: Mobile games dominate YouTube as far as gaming goes, with 1-1.5BN hours watched. Content creators are central to YouTube’s eSports strategy (both around live events and online) as they populate the platform with gaming content, add their unique voice, and grow and engage gaming communities.

Data & Technology

Market of One: Cognitive Intelligence enables mass personalisation: Armed with a growing library of digital information and the tools to analyse it through machine learning and AI, marketers can now tailor customer relationships to the individual. It’s the end of mass marketing and the start of the market of one.   

AI Meets Sport: The Gold Mine of Passions: As demonstrated by eagleAI predicting Trump’s win, AI, through social listening, has the power to reveal what is often hidden to traditional media – what everyday people are really thinking. When AI meets sports, we’ll be able to better understand fan sentiment by measuring the buzz about an emerging team, a rising crossover star, and new terms and emerging platforms, to name just a few.   

Start (Me) Up… and Sports Innovation will Never Stop: Venture funding in sports tech start-ups is growing 30% per year, with big investors like Intel jumping in. Creating new services and products for athletes, organisers, fans, and brands, sports start-ups have immense growth potential.

Econometrics - the best new method for sponsorship valuation: Econometrics, traditionally used in finance and science, can help brands optimise their ROI in rights by revealing which assets add value and how.

New Media

Live Sports Go OTT: Live sports content has been slow to go OTT due to the rigid TV rights model. Expect a calculated rollout for OTT sport content in 2017. 

Athletes are the New Media: Uninterrupted, The Player’s Tribune, Unscriptd, and Slyce are examples of athlete-owned online platforms where athletes share the stories they deem important, driving the dialogue and agenda. A new era for athletes to call the shots and give greater access to their fans.

Integrity in Sport

Will it always be known as “Women in Sport”? 66% of sports fans (male and female) think that sponsors should be involved in women’s sport, and 53% think that women’s sport is just as exciting to watch as men’s, but sponsorship in the sector is peanuts in comparison with men’s sport. These undervalued assets represent a huge opportunity for brands to cut through.  

It’s Sport, It’s Business - and it’s got to make a difference: Brand sponsors have a duty to call out bad sport, particularly if they want to stay true to their corporate values and those of sport in general. With sports fans behind them, sponsors have an opportunity to do something good while promoting their brands.

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