New VS Old Sports

New Sports, New Opportunities

The sporting landscape is changing.

As media consumption fragments and technology sparks an explosion in lifelogging the race is on to identify and engage with emerging communities of sports participants.

Traditional sports such as cricket have had to create new formats to address participation declines but in some sports, but the real news is the growth of new participation sporting concepts that offer brands new ways to connect with consumers.

A great example of a brand capitalising on this trend is Reebok, arguably the most innovative sponsor of the past decade when it comes to identify and aligning itself with emerging communities of fans and participants.

From spending hundreds of millions of dollars on sponsorship rights with the likes of NFL, MLB and NHL, Reebok has become focused on an area that had rarely attracted interest from broadcasters or sponsors – fitness.

A sizeable sponsorship deal with the emerging CrossFit craze led to partnerships with Spartan Race and Ragnar relay, extreme endurance events attracting communities of highly-engaged, digitally-connected athletes.

Reebok is not alone and a trend is emerging as a whole range of new sporting disciplines take hold offering something new to both participants and commercial interests.

Look at the rapid growth of Tough Mudder. According to its CEO twice as many people in the UK now take part in its events as run marathons and this has attracted not just a broadcast partnership with Sky Sports but sponsorship deals with established brands like Lucozade.

So what can brands do to take advantage? The clear opportunity is to move fast and get involved in these community-led movements as early as possible.

With technology fuelling the popularity of life-logging, mass participation sports are among the ones to watch with cycling and swimming joining running in seeing growth in alternative disciplines such as open water swimming.

As Reebok’s success in Crossfit has proven to the detriment of competitors including Nike, taking ownership of these trends can offer real and immediate commercial returns.


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