The old saying “When the chickens come home to roost” generally refers to some action of another that leads to a reaction of another person or thing. In the past, this author discussed the financial aspects and gain of the brand Nike’s involvement with former National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick. During the pandemic, when professional sports returned in the form of Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, and soccer leagues abroad, streaming and television viewership of the games have seen significant growth. Will that viewership subside when life returns to normal?
The aforementioned is the question that will be considered by advertisers, broadcasters, streamers, studios, management, players, talent, and universities as they set their budgets, project revenues, and negotiate deals. Naturally, as people have more time when working from home, television and streaming consumption will rise along with revenues. On the other hand, as people go back to work and life returns to normal, consumers tend to focus less on television and sports and more on work, being outside, and traveling, etc. The transition to normalcy could potentially be exponential as people feel the pent-up desire to travel and see their communities, family, friends, and the world. It could also be that there is a slow growth into outside activities as people ease back into normalcy. Remember, however, the Roaring 20s followed the 1918 Spanish Flu, which was followed by the Great Depression, and economies tend to run in cycles.
Case-in-point: Often the criticism of Los Angeles-based fans is that they are fair-weather and do care as much as other fans in different locales. However, understanding context is important. Los Angeles offers beaches, lakes, and mountains within an hour or two of each other, ten professional sports franchises, an entire entertainment industry in Hollywood, fashion, and much more. Meaning, sports compete for people’s attention spans in a massive market like Los Angeles. This means that sports have to be good to be competitive. In that sense, the free market reigns in Los Angeles as teams have to constantly be good to earn viewing loyalty.
As streaming has risen during the pandemic, the question to ask is has the content gotten better to the point that consumers will sacrifice other activities to continue watching entertainment, media, and sports programming once normalcy reigns? The technology and production have definitely advanced in innovation and this author has written several columns to that point. On the other hand, with political messaging seeing a significant increase and being distributed on nearly every entertainment, media, and sports broadcast, viewers who disagree with the messaging will have to make a decision to continue watching despite the differences of opinion. However, like Hollywood has done for years with political messaging through talent at the Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmy’s, and on the screen through content, consumers have sometimes separated the politics from the enjoyment of the content.
The data and analytics provide that many sports consumers tend to lean conservative and many fans are located in the suburbs, small towns, Middle America, and places not the coasts, which tend to lean left. It could also be that as economies run in cycles, so does politics and political messaging. Meaning, post-election could mean less messaging and more programming. Time will tell, but for now industry creators, producers, and distributors have to consider the roost.