Review of the 3 trends which are changing Gen Z sports consumption: eSports, Augmented and Virtual reality

Kevin Larroyer / December 10, 2021

In my first two blogs, I reviewed how my dad consumed sports highly influenced by the traditional media. Then, I looked at my sports consumption which is a mix of traditional and new media. In this blog, I look at how Generation Z consume sports as they have grown up with the rise of technology and never lived without the internet and mobile devices (Funk et al., 2016). Generation Z privilege entertainment experiences as they consume sports differently than mine or my dad generation (Nielsen, 2019). E.g., this generation has a tiny attention span they prefer shorter, snackable content (Nielsen, 2019). Any time-off during the game leads them to their phones and consume content from other platforms (Deloitte, 2019). Three trends will change their sports consumption: eSports, augmented and virtual reality.

1. eSports

eSports draws larger audiences of Generation Z fans with a passion for competitive video gaming (Arkenberg et al., 2018). According to Deloitte (2017) report, two-thirds of Generation Z watch live eSports, and 37% attend live eSports events. In 2021, eSports viewership continued to grow, with 26.6 million monthly viewers and 29.6 million viewers are expected in 2022 (Insider Intelligence, 2021). Like traditional sports, esports teams have owners, franchises, endorsements deals, cash prizes, and in 2020 TSM team registered $45 million in revenue (Insider Intelligence, 2021). Major leagues embrace the growth, with some incorporating eSports into their portfolios (Deloitte, 2019). E.g., NBA launched an NBA2k league in 2018 (Aldridge, 2018). In the following years, eSports is expecting to grow with major clubs such as Real Madrid, which will host eSports events in the new Santiago Bernabeu stadium (Friend, 2018).

2. Augmented Reality (AR)

The development of augmented reality and virtual reality are changing their consumer experience (Deloitte, 2019). The fan will become personalised and immersive (Wann et al., 2021). E.g., in the future, every television will be connected with new ways to watch sports, for example, watching two sports on split-screen (Wann et al., 2021). The fan will be in charge of how they want to watch sports; people will be able to choose who they want to watch even if they are not in the room (Wann et al., 2021). The first official augmented reality was when MLB launched a mobile app to allow fans to use their phones to access player information by pointing the camera at the field (Ortiz, 2017). Also, fans could access diverse data such as match-up history, past and present statistics, player speed, defensive range and more (Deloitte, 2019). Now, fans can watch the game from multiple angles, see real-time shooting stats (O’Connor, 2018).

3. Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual reality appeared for the first time in 2018 for the FIFA World Cup, where all the 33 games were available through the BBC app (BBC, 2018). E.g., users could watch the actions in a fully immersive environment, like if they were inside the stadium in their hospitality box. In addition, virtual reality enhances fans participation through two-way communication. E.g., at half-time, fans must use their headsets to search around the stadium for a prize (Deloitte, 2019). In the future, virtual reality will allow people to change between athlete, referee, and fan (Wann et al., 2021).

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