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What is The Age of The Fluid Fan?

We are entering a New Age of Sports, one in which the foundation of the entire sports industry—the fans—are dramatically changing.

In our latest report, we break down the evolution of sports, and specifically how technology has shaped the industry for over a century. Through our research, we identified three distinct time periods in sports. The first two are The Age of the Local Fan and The Age of the Global Fan. Those ages spanned from the birth of modern sport in the middle to late 19th Century, through to today. We are currently at a peak in the Age of Global Fandom.

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But our report also explains that we are on the cusp of a new age, one that will be defined by change. We call this The Age of the Fluid Fan.

Defined By Change

Fluid Fandom is fundamentally about change and continuous movement. Fluidity. Fluid Fans can be identified by three core characteristics:

  1. Open to Change: Fluid fans are open to trying new sports, switching their allegiances, and seeking out new forms of entertainment. They have demonstrated the unthinkable: they have and will change their favorite sports teams, leagues, and players. That could mean the concept of the die-hard fan is going extinct.
  2. Empowered to Choose: Sports fans not only have more forms of sports to choose from, they have more forms of entertainment to choose from as well. All these diversions are at their fingertips and in the palms of their hands. If their favorite player is traded, they take their fans, and their passion, with them.
  3. Continuously Evolving: There is no defining the Fluid Fan because their expectations continuously evolve. Every technology innovation, in sport or in an adjacent industry, will change the way fans expect to experience sport. New payment systems, new virtual reality headsets, new forms of transportation mean that sport can’t sit still. These fans continue to demand the cost, convenience, and comforts that exist in other areas of their lives to exist in sports.

Evolution to Fluid Fan

Fluidity is Not Bad

While the sports industry is facing dramatic technological change in the Age of the Fluid Fan, it’s important to recognize that fluidity is not a bad thing, and need not be a problem. In fact, for the organizations paying attention, the Age of the Fluid Fan is an opportunity. Fluid Fans aren’t diminished fans, they are simply fans who behave differently and with differing motivations.

Fluidity in fandom is also not “all or nothing.” Even some of the most entrenched, self-identifying “die-hard” fans are finding themselves behaving differently because of technology. Maybe they are watching only the 4th quarter of games on their phone, or maybe they are joining digital communities on Reddit. Maybe they are cheering for opposing players because of fantasy sports, or because they are betting. It is technology that makes all of these experiences easier.

Ready or Not, Sports are Changing

The sports world is changing, and technology is pushing it along. We’re entering A New Age of Sports, and the industry needs to prepare. This disruption is precisely why we’ve taken a dynamic approach to market research. We’ve built software to track what is happening in the industry, and to continuously look for connections between companies, leagues, teams, federations, and people in the industry. You can download our full A New Age of Sports report here.

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