Business Strategy

Creating an emotional connection with the modern sports fan

Creating an emotional connection with the modern sports fan

The rise of social and mobile technologies has changed the expectations of sports fans. Hungry for an emotional connection with their favorite team, fans want to be engaged —they want to be heard.

In an article for MediaPost, Bruce Friend, president of media and entertainment at Vision Critical, gives an overview of the challenges facing sports companies today, including declining ticket sales, decreased fan engagement and loyalty, fragmented corporate and media partnerships, and stagnant merchandise sales. Friend says a solid performance in the scoreboard no longer translates to seat sales. Fans want a more meaningful relationship with their teams.

Friend outlines three ways sports teams can “sell fun” to fans in the digital age.

  1. Build your brand.

Whether it’s hometown pride, superstar players or something else, teams need to discover the emotional anchors that will ignite the passion of their fans. The transformation of Seattle from a miserable to a passionate sports city demonstrates how modern teams can build their brand and enhance fan loyalty.

  1. Entertain your fans.

A game is not just a game. Fans expect a memorable experience when they watch their favorite team.

Teams have many things to consider: WiFi connectivity, entertainment during timeouts, and food and beverage, to name a few. Teams need to talk to fans and find out which parts of the game experience matters most to them.

  1. Consider the entire fan experience.

From mobile to web streaming, the way people consume sports media continues to shift. Sports teams need to follow suit, not just in the way they distribute their content but also in how they engage with fans.

“If teams want fans to come to their games, they have to go to where the fans are — the digital realm,” says Friend, adding that fan engagement “must be congruent (better yet complementary) with their habits and the shift in behavior.”


To tackle declining ticket sales, deteriorating corporate partnerships and stagnant merchandise revenue, teams need to put the focus back on their fans. Team performance no longer drives fan loyalty or financial results. Teams must prioritize ongoing, two-way collaboration with their community of fans if they want to ensure the longevity of their brands.

To learn about a new approach to fan engagement, watch a 4-minute tour of Vision Critical’s Sports Fan Council.

Vision Critical Sports Fan Council - Fan Engagement and Intelligence Solution

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