Accountancy firm PwC has published its Sports Outlook report for 2019, tracking potential opportunities and challenges to future industry growth in the burgeoning US sports sector. 

This year’s edition refreshes the firm’s five-year revenue forecasts through to 2023 within four key segments of the North American sports market: gate revenues, media rights, sponsorships, and merchandising. Crucially, the outlook also takes a deeper dive into sports betting and its potential to reshape key parts of the market.

Touching on many of the big talking points around sports betting, PwC honed in quickly on the importance of mobile. “No matter how or where you engage in sports – at home, at the game or someplace in between – the only common platform is mobile,” it said. “For companies in the entertainment business, the equation to enhance the experience must include a digital variable.”

It added: “Branded apps and mobile sites are now baseline for companies who want to engage with consumers, with each outlet striving for any degree of differentiation.” 

The report goes on to describe social media as a key element in today’s experience-driven culture. “For sports gamblers, it would be a disservice not to monitor social media before placing a bet,” it noted. “Mass online communities providing intricate levels of insight are indicators of how leveraging social media can increase your odds. 

“Social media has also revolutionized the fan relationship with athletes, leagues and brands. Of the major players wanting in on the sports betting boom, social media is positioned strategically to act as a significant player between gamblers and the sports business.”  

According to PwC, the betting experience is not limited to the sports fan. “The ease of proposition bets and free-to-play opportunities draw in historically gambling-focused consumers who are likely to be converted to sports consumers,” it said. 

“Offers for predictive gaming during live telecasts draw in audiences right from their living room and help maintain viewership. Despite the quality of the game itself, a personal interest to stay tuned for the outcome—independent of the competitiveness of the game—allows broadcasters and advertisers alike a longer and deeper opportunity to maintain attention and interest from viewers.”

The study also predicts that sports betting will leave an indelible mark on the sector in the longer term. It stated: “Legalized betting is a concept that sports leagues and regulators took years to embrace, fearing corruption could taint the entire business. Now, it is finally becoming clear – betting could be the ticket to undeniable monetization. The potential to permanently embed legal sports betting into the sports ecosystem proves to be an unstoppable catalyst, forever changing the game.”

The full report can be read here.