Smartphone on a mapDigital sport for fan engagement is a growth area as sports clubs and players seek to use new technologies to build their brands and reach new audiences. The business of sport is huge. To give some idea of the scale of sport, each  year, Forbes release a table of the top 50 sports clubs in terms of value. In 2021, it again placed the Dallas Cowboys NFL team top of the pile for the 5th straight year with $5.7 billion valuation (up from 5.5 in 2020). The NBA and NFL dominate the list with Barcelona and Real Madrid the richest football clubs up to 4th and 5th in the list. Manchester United dropped to 11th place ($4.2 billion) losing 10th spot to Bayern Munich. United’s recent re-signing of CR7 may improve their fortunes next year as they gained millions of new social media followers.

This is fuelled by lucrative sponsorship deals and broadcast rights, which are closely linked with digital technologies and fan engagement. Thanks to the triple revolution of fast Internet, smartphones and social media, fans globally are always connected and some scholars would argue they have become hyperdigitalized. The number of smartphone owners in the world is growing swiftly. In this blog post series, I explore some different topics relating to some of the key digital technologies that are used in sport to engage a global audience of fans. I will also try to include some of the challenges and potential solutions for sports clubs and players face for using technologies positively. I have put together the diagram below to show the current situation, but of course there are always new technologies arising. There is much overlap between the technologies and each is underpinned by data, which is an increasingly valuable resource for clubs and brand building.

Digital Sport for Fan Engagement - by Alex Fenton

I hope you enjoy this blog post series on digital sport for fan engagement. I also did a Keynote talk and workshop on Digital Sports: The Field Behind the Screen at Coppead Business School in Rio De Janeiro as part of this research. As always, drop me a line via social media if you have any thoughts or comments.

Dr Alex Fenton, Digital Sport and fan engagement keynote


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