Where fans will be absent or at least diminished from stadiums, ballparks, grandstands, and arenas, sports franchises have looked for new ways to increase revenue. Opportunities are actually expanding during a time of contraction.
As sports teams and athletes navigate the start, return, and hopeful continuance of their seasons, there will be a drive to find new sources of revenue where fans cannot attend in-person. The marketplace seems to be focused on advertising spaces. Those three spaces are physical, digital, and on-person/uniforms.
1. In Physical Space
In the seats where fans once sat, tarps will overlay those same seats. The tarps present prime opportunity for advertising products and services. In fact, NFL teams have already committed to doing this. Where cameras for the television and streaming broadcasts normally focus on the field with occasional shots of the stands, those same shots can still be had, but instead of seeing fans, viewers will see sponsor logos in the first eight to ten rows. The advertising space also encourages safety in sports.
2. In Digital Space
Where less fans will be watching sports games in person, ideally those same fans will watch the same games on the screen from home or restaurants. Opportunities present themselves to have interactive commercial advertising that allow for split screen viewing to increase playing and commercial runtime. Furthermore, where more fans are watching digitally, those same tarps covering the seats will be viewed by more consumers. In some sense, advertising space just got more expensive because with many fans still working from home and spending more time at home (or at least not attending games in-person), it will mean more eyeballs on screen content.
3. On Athlete Uniforms
Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Players Association (MLBPA) did not agree to adding sponsor logos to the uniforms for the 2020 season, however the Nike Swoosh uniform will make its debut. It looks that 2022 will see sponsor patch logos on uniforms when and where MLB and MLBPA agree to a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) after the 2021 season when the current CBA expires. The NBA has already allowed teams to add jersey patches and of course soccer leads the pack with NASCAR in terms of extensive sponsorship placement.
With less fans purchasing parking, tickets, and merchandise, sports teams will continue the drive to be innovative. The above are some ways franchises are attempting to accomplish this during an unprecedented time and mission.