What’s Trending Across The Sports Media Landscape For 2018?

It’s Friday and if you’ve been reading the site all week, you’ve probably noticed a theme of articles looking to 2018 and how executives see particular niches in sports business shaking out. We’ve highlighted social/digital media, ticketing, esportsAR/VR, general business and technology.

Sports Business Chronicle recently asked some C-level executives and industry professionals, what are the trends/hot-button topics you’re following in sports media for 2018, and what is your big, bold prediction for the space next year? 

You’ll find that the two questions for most of these articles are similar — that’s on purpose. Participants could answer one or both questions and were limited to 100 words total (not 100 per question). Below are their emailed responses, which have been edited for brevity and clarity.

To follow the conversation on Twitter, use the hashtag #SBC2018.

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Trends/topics: AR will continue to become more mainstream as more consumer applications are developing. It will be interesting to see how broadcasters can leverage this technology to provide unique content to consumers. Prediction: The rise of UHD broadcasts will continue to grow and perhaps double in 2018. Broadcasters have found ways to produce for HD and UHD simultaneously thus mitigating extra costs associated.

Zac Fields, Senior Vice President of Graphic Tech/Integrations, FOX Sports 

Trends/topics: The most intriguing thing will be monitoring how ESPN does in 2018 after being a punching bag in 2017 with a toxic cycle of layoffs, subscriber loss, controversies and venomous accusations of political bias. ESPN will be launching their OTT service and maybe absorbing Fox Sports regional networks with the launch of the ACC Network around the corner. Is this enough to bounce back from 2017? They’ve certainly stacked the deck to change the narrative but given the lingering scrutiny and ill-will, ESPN may find itself unable to navigate back to the calm and lucrative waters that they ruled for so long.

Ben Koo, Editor-in-Chief/Chief Executive Officer, Awful Announcing

Trends/predictions: Last year we saw everyone ‘pivot to video’ as a one-size-fits-all answer to the future of media. But the reality is, consumers have shown an appetite for stories across a broad spectrum of formats — it’s why for every viral video, you’ll hear of a podcast capturing listeners for hours, a film that lights up the cultural conversation, or a written piece that’s quoted and shared millions of times over. The lesson is that fans follow a good story, regardless of platform. Or, better said: The key is understanding what format is the right one for the story you want to tell.

Alison Overholt, Vice President, Editor-in-Chief, ESPN The Magazine and espnW

Trends/topics: If the ESPN acquisition of FOX Sports RSNs goes through, and what type of programming they will put on them; what happens with WWE rights; if ATT/Time Warner merger goes through, and whether they start to emerge as bidder for NFL rights; how the Greeny/Beadle/Jalen show and Bomani and Pablo do in the ratings. Prediction: Not sure how bold this is but I bet that Barstool’s premium paid offering will include video content from Big Cat and PFT Commenter.

Ryan Glasspiegel, Staff Writer, The Big Lead

Predictions: The role the sports world plays in shaping culture, community and movements will continue to grow. More and more people who don’t care about wins and losses will consume sports culture content through social platforms and sharing. Instagram will become more mainstream for sports fans over 35. There will be some major innovation around mobile alerts. Advertisers will get smarter about leaning into brands that actually influence consumer preferences and behavior.

Dave Finocchio, Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Bleacher Report

Prediction: I (was in D.C.) for the oral arguments in this case and my big prediction is the Supreme Court is going to overrule the federal prevention on sports gambling — PASPA — and allow individual states to make decisions about whether or not they allow sports gambling. By next football season, at least 10 states will allow legal sports gambling within their borders. I think this will be as big of a deal in sports media and sports business as the melding of sports, fantasy football and the Internet and the rise of cable. The impact will be seismic, unlike anything we’ve seen in a very long time.

Clay Travis, Founder, OutkickTheCoverage.com

About Mark J. Burns

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