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SPOBIS 2020 | 5 Key Learnings: Moving forward together


Thassilo von Bierbrauer


One of the most traditional and biggest sports business events in Europe enticed around 3,500 guests into the Düsseldorf Congress Center this year. The SPOBIS 2020.

In various panels, master classes and other content formats, sports business once again exchanged information about the latest trends, issues and challenges, which are keeping the industry holding its breath. Omnipresent and generally well-known issues, such as digitisation and data challenges, the advance of the OTT platforms, the eSports professionalisation or even the constantly rising relevance of podcasts were naturally of key importance in many discussions.

Furthermore, a partnership agreement was noticeable across many issues, that the large mass of these challenges can only be solved collectively in the entire industry. But what remained memorable beyond this, which other concrete key learnings could be taken away from this year’s SPOBIS? We have identified the following five:

Key Learning 1: The new German Inter-State Treaty on Gambling is generally rated as being positive | Nearly all market participants assess the regulation, which is currently taking place and will take effect from July 2021 in respect of gambling in Germany as a step in the generally right direction.  In this context, however, it remains questionable whether the system in the currently planned form is not being “over-regulated” through various restrictions and is therefore losing economic attractiveness for the market participants. Significant limitations of this are, inter alia, the paying-in limit (EUR 1,000/month per person) or even the limitation on the types of live bets. The initial empirical values will provide further information, but the stakeholders involved on the side of the rights holders and the brand are already preparing themselves conscientiously for this change.

Key Learning 2: Content is no longer “king”, the customer is!| Customer Centricity will be and is already absolutely essential in order to act as equals with partners, customers etc. The request and sense of the specific customisation stipulates the direction of travel and defines all other processes, depending on the objective and requirements of the respective customer. I.e. a functioning pattern hardly exists any more, in fact, the repeatedly customised solution is the path to success – regardless of which business sector it is.

Key Learning 3: Brands ask the “why” question | Brands that are active within the sports business environment are increasingly making “why” instead of “what” paramount in their communication. Sport sponsoring must particularly offer appropriate solutions as a form of communication, in order to reflect this channel accordingly and rights holders must also position themselves more strongly as relevant business partners, than has previously been the case.

Key Learning 4: The “technology invasion” is in full flow | VAR in football, 5G mobile communication networks, training methods, virtual advertising, innovative “viewing experiences” via second screen or OTT platforms: Regardless of which sport or which sub-area of the sports industry you look at, the possibilities of innovative technologies appear to be limitless. For example, Vodafone implemented an initial successful mixed/augmented reality test in cooperation with VfL Wolfsburg on the basis of 5G technology. But: These are often just initial steps, in many areas, the clear structure or orientation are still missing, regarding what should be concretely implemented and observed, if this or that objective is used as a basis. That is now the next – and imminently important – step, which can only be achieved, if all stakeholders involved pull together.

Key Learning 5: The (still) difficult monetarisation of the social followers| Particularly on the rights holder side, the conversion of social media fans/followers to own platforms is still a huge challenge, which has also not yet been solved by the top clubs in football. A solution recommendation: Particularly the official club apps are increasingly moving into the spotlight and offering creative solutions for this challenge, as various opportunities exist for direct emotional access to the fan, through interaction between the club and sponsors and other stakeholders, which provide the fans with real added value.

In the sport business industry, there are an abundance of conferences, trade fairs and events in every location around the globe. But what is actually important? What moves the industry? Which current trends determine tomorrow’s business?

The “Essentials” news series on BEYOND THE MATCH creates a specific overview of the latest conferences and events, classifies trends and summarises what is important at a glance.

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