The Evolution of Fan Engagement During COVID-19

Dr. Nicholas Watanabe

With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, sport and entertainment organizations around the world were required to shut their venues to fans as part of the protocols put into place by governments to limit the transmission of the disease. While this certainly had a significant impact on the operations and revenue of sport teams, it was still critical for these organizations to continue operating events, and continue engaging with fans. Because direct contact with consumers was not allowed, the main channel through which to communicate with fans was through media. Specifically, most sport and entertainment organizations turned focus to utilizing digital media technologies, such as social media, video communication technology, and even virtual/augmented reality to give fans special experiences. In this way, although organizations took significant financial losses from not having attendees at games purchasing tickets, concessions, and other merchandise, it still allowed them to maintain and build relationships with fans so as to ensure they would be willing to come back to events once fans were allowed back into venues. Considering this, the current case study focuses on the various strategies and technologies that were used by sport and entertainment organizations to engage with fans during the pandemic. In addition to examining the various strategies, this case will also evaluate the effectiveness of these practices, and consider their potential uses and benefits for the future of marketing and fan engagement in the sport industry.