1. Home
  2. Insights

Put Me In, Coach! – The Evolution of Fan Interactivity

fan engagement technologies team sports

For Gen Z and Gen Alpha sports are about joy with less focus on stringent rules and competitive cultures. These generations are seeking activities that foster exploration and creativity. Sports need to adapt to provide spaces of opportunity for this generation of fan that favors values over achievements.

New fan engagement technologies will need to center around the concept of fans no longer just being spectators – but active participants in the business of the game. Sporting moments must be playful, interactive and personalized for this younger generation. Social networking, online communities and membership models can offer opportunities to gamify the sports experience.

As well as social networks and membership models, sports organizations should consider facilitating personalized opportunities for young fans to engage directly with their favorite players in fandom moments on their preferred social media platforms (such as TikTok, Twitch and Clubhouse).

Only 23% of Gen Z consider themselves sports fans, compared to 42% of Millennials. (Source: The New York Times 2022)

Nurturing fan engagement through sports-centric social network communities

Micro-communities built around fans have begun to engage with sports-centric social networks. They offer a community space for enthusiasts who seek social connection through joint appreciation for their preferred sports team. Brands and teams will be able to leverage these digital spaces for sponsored content, or as a means to highlight local branded sports initiatives.

Gaining mainstream interest is the fan loyalty and reward app Socios which is upgrading the sports fan experience. The app offers official fan tokens that can be used for various sports teams, team-related perks and exclusive experiences. By gamifying these experiences, the app offers sports teams the opportunity to monetize their fan experiences in an authorized space.

In 2022, the Brooklyn Nets announced a partnership with CrowdPlay, a gamified fan rewards software to set up a new fan loyalty program whereby season ticket holders can register to earn points that can be redeemed for official merchandise, game tickets and autographed memorabilia.

"Everything from viewership to attendance, engagement and merchandise sales—[that] soccer is becoming immensely more popular in the United States, especially among Gen Z and Generation Alpha,” said Michelle Wilson, Isos Capital founder and co-CEO. (Source: Sports Business Journal, 2023)