Issue #47: Fandom, Flip Phones, and Filing Those Taxes

The World Cup. The Olympics. The Super Bowl. For decades, these championship moments have sat at the pinnacle of the sports world, an opportunity for leagues — and their brands — to reaffirm connections with a global audience on primetime TV. But who exactly that audience is may be changing. As the research team at Fanalytics notes, Gen Z is the most sports-agnostic generation we’ve ever seen — and yet, it’s the first generation where female fandom outpaces male fandom in nearly every sport, from football to Formula 1. In other words, the future of sports fandom is female. That’s right, the balance is shifting — and, as part of that shift, forward-thinking brands are finding new ways to connect with a new generation of fans.

And as leagues, networks, and brands are increasingly demonstrating, textured and “nontraditional” storytelling is one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal. The stories that reach the furthest and resonate the loudest are not typically happening between tip-off and the final buzzer. As we often say around the AW offices: Basketball isn’t basketball. What’s interesting isn’t just who’s winning or losing, but who they are, what they have at stake, what makes them tick when there are no crowds around. From Instagram to podcasts, from 30 for 30 to Formula 1: Drive to Survive , organizations are finding new ways to tell the types of stories that previously could only be found in beat writer tell-alls and sports talk radio — and this exponentially expands the entry points for viewers of all backgrounds to stake a claim in the subject matter.

This isn’t a lesson that’s limited to the ballpark. There are new audiences out there — audiences we may not consider our traditional crowd — that are just waiting to be reached in ways that let them know that they belong.

Every month, we publish a fresh issue of Provocations, a digestible digest that captures our perspectives on the world around us as well as big — and little — ideas to provoke the way creatives, strategists, and marketers make their moves. Sign up below to receive Provocations in your inbox using the “Stay in the Know” form. 

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