Global sports, events and representation company IMG has launched its Digital Trends Report 2024, exploring the technologies and developments that will shape the sport media landscape for rightsholders over the next 12 months.

Now in its sixth edition, this year’s predictions include the growth of smarter stadiums, tactical adoption of generative AI, and monetising women’s sport through digital.

2. IMG

IMG’s 2024 Digital Trends

For the first time, the report ranks the 10 most important third-party media platforms for the global sports industry with TikTok coming out on top, followed by YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp. The platforms are ranked based on a detailed analysis of their audience profile and growth, commercial potential and the functionality they offer both rightsholders and users, among others.

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Headline predictions from the Digital Trends Report 2024 include:

  • Smart stadia: Digital engagement will be at the forefront of the stadium experience in 2024. The value of smart stadia will come in many forms, including reduced overhead costs, improved revenue, and deeper fan connections. Not only will smart solutions help control the stadium’s infrastructure more effectively, regulating lighting, heating and cooling, but it will also help rightsholders unpackage their sponsorship proposition, enabling the creation of more targeted advertising for brands. Both San Francisco 49ers and Tottenham Hotspur are already leading in this space.
  • AI: In 2024, sports organisations will have a clearer idea of how to use AI and to unlock efficiencies in their processes, develop new and innovative content formats and marketing campaigns, and identify new commercial opportunities in large data sets. Early examples will see sports using AI to improve ticket and retail conversion through better user targeting, while rightsholders will seek to reduce churn on streaming and membership services and optimise pricing through much deeper predictive analytics.
  • Women’s sport monetising through digital: Women’s sport has a very engaged, digital-savvy audience and highly-engaged pockets of online communities. There is already data to suggest these communities will over-index on support of the brands that commit to it – for example, Michelob Ultra found that fans of women’s sport are 30% more likely to engage with its brand. 2024 is the moment that rightsholders can translate digital engagement to effective commercial partnerships. 
  • The rise of the mega influencer: In the past year, Cristiano Ronaldo joined the Saudi Pro League, Lionel Messi went to Major League Soccer, and Taylor Swift start dating the Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce – creating tidal waves in their respective leagues, attracting new fans and driving growth opportunities. In 2024, sports rightsholders need to take advantage of any initial entry point which helps extend their fan base.

IMG’s Senior Vice President & Managing Director of Digital, Lewis Wiltshire said: “We’re proud to present rightsholders with a clear view of the technology they need to be aware of over the next 12 months and proud to offer paths through this landscape as part of IMG, with our digital expertise now at the very heart of the organisation’s strength and scale.”

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