What does the future hold for Live Sporting Events in the Asia-Pacific region?

Last month Holly Millward, CSM Asia’s Regional Director, sat down with several industry experts to discuss the future of sport in the region and the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on live sport and partnerships.

The first conversation included a one-on-one chat with Conrad Wiacek, Head of Analysis and Consulting at GlobalData, on ‘The Impact of Covid-19 on the Summer of Sport’.

Holly returned to the virtual stage at the Live! Matters conference featuring industry veterans such as Robbie McRobbie [CEO, Hong Kong Rugby Union], Lim Teck Yin [CEO, Sport Singapore], and Patrick Murphy [CEO, Football Marketing Asia].  This insightful session sparked questions around the infrastructure model for live sports and how this might evolve with advancements in technology.  Here are a few key lessons that emerged from the webinars:

The pandemic has seen incredible challenges, but has catalysed some of the changes that sport has needed.
Whilst Covid-19 has been a time of crisis, businesses have had to find new ways of innovating and moving forward. Particularly when it comes to live events, rightsholders and brands have had no choice but to focus on digital acceleration at a faster pace than they would have in normal times.


Humanity needs sport more than ever, but safety will continue to take priority.
In the face of a health crisis, the need and desire for sport is greater than before, but not at any cost.  Sport must be re-introduced safely and sustainably given the need to coexist with Covid-19 for some time.​


Scenario planning is necessary for the foreseeable future.
The world is combating covid at varying paces and different levels of recovery make the return of live events extremely challenging, particularly for those with transnational rights. Event organisers must continue to plan for the worst and build expertise around the safe management of events. At the same time, the guest experience and entertainment must be carefully considered otherwise there is potential to damage the brand and product.


Having a portfolio of live and hybrid events will allow us to think about new areas of segmentation and monetisation.
Prior to the pandemic, the sports industry was already facing disruption from technology.Covid-19 has accelerated the need to adapt and warranted exploring new ways of segmenting the market.Social media and technology play a huge role in the future of the industry, particularly amongst youth who have the power to influence a shift in the sports world for years to come.


Evolving the fan relationship through digital will be key and production must be innovated.
The absence of live events has opened up the opportunity to establish an ongoing dialogue with fans, at scale.With the return of live sport, production infrastructure should also be re-evaluated to allow broadcast partners working with rightsholders to develop something more dynamic than the traditional TV audience has experienced in the past.


Data is going big, but some work needs to be done before we can truly appreciate its value.
Every person in the database of a sport represents a commercial value. Brands and rightsholders need to ensure they are listening to these audiences, understanding behaviours and personalising content.Data can be monetised, but before we can truly take advantage of it, it needs to be understood by rightsholders and brands.


Collaboration is key: we need to create ‘a marketplace of ideas’.
As the world begins to think about vaccination passports and international travel, there is an urgency for greater cross-collaboration than experienced in the pre-covid world. A marketplace of ideas should exist across tournaments, within sports, across countries.This will be crucial to ensuring some level of normality in the return of live sport.


Partnership assets need to be re-evaluated.
Businesses must question what drives value and growth through partnerships.  It is not about cutting spending, but about spending in the right areas. Before Covid-19, partnership assets were 60-70% physical, whereas now it is more about leveraging knowledge and first party data. Brands can be effectively ‘always on’ and engage consumers better with content that they really want to see.


Reviewing talent and structures are key to innovation.
In a time of change and disruption, organisations must look harder at the make-up of their businesses to sustain momentum. In order to innovate, the people, structures, and processes in place will be crucial to success in a continuously evolving environment.

Watch the full conversation at LIVE!Matters here.