The Sports & Entertainment sector has been severely hit by COVID-19 and the necessary restrictions on large gatherings imposed by governments all around the world. Gemba Insights is conducting regular research into how fans are responding, feeling and behaving during this period.
All of our COVID-19 research reports are now available for free download here.
Impact of COVID-19 on consumer spending habits among sports fans
17 September 2020
Much of professional sport in Australia is at least partly reliant on the support of brands for sponsorship revenue. So consumer sentiment and the health of consumer brands is an important indicator for future sponsorship growth.
Consumer confidence is down on pre-COVID levels, and many Australians are being more selective about what they are spending their money on.
But sports fanatics represent a bright spot – they are more bullish about their intended spending, and so sports fans represent a potential opportunity for brands in the sponsorship space even during the current environment.
Hot topic: preferred location for the 2020 AFL Grand Final
20 August 2020
With Melbourne highly unlikely to be able to host a mass gathering event in October, the AFL is exploring its options to hold the 2020 AFL Grand Final away from the MCG. Queensland, Western Australia, NSW and South Australia have all put their cases to the AFL administration, and a decision is imminent. We polled Australians as to their preferred location.
In this report we also test whether artificial crowd noise in live sport TV broadcasts has been accepted by fans. And we track a concerning trend among Australian sports fans who are showing signs of disconnecting from sport during the COVID era, presenting a challenge and an opportunity to re-engage them leading into summer sports and 2021 seasons.
Starting to return to normal for some, Victorians remain most concerned
22 July 2020
Melbourne is in its second lock-down and face-masks are now mandatory across the city. Major sporting codes have relocated to Queensland or Perth to continue playing in front of limited crowds (but generally reasonably strong TV ratings). In some parts of the country, life feels close to being back to normal, while for others COVID-19 continues to have huge impact on lives, jobs and the economy.
Gemba’s latest fan research shows that behaviours and attitudes are shifting across Australia, in line with the current extent of the virus and related restrictions on movement, sport and business.
In the past two weeks, people in NSW and Queensland have been spending time with friends and family outside their household, dining-in at restaurants, or having a drink at a bar at close to double the rates of Victorians.
Meanwhile, Victorians remain the most nervous about returning to live sporting or entertainment venues, with 60% of survey respondents in that state saying they will not feel safe until a vaccine is widely available, compared to 46% in NSW/ACT and 36% in Queensland.
State by state
24 June 2020
As Australia begins to emerge from COVID-19 lockdown, with live sport being played again and community sport starting to return, consumers are re-engaging with friends and family and enjoying the ability to dine out at cafes and restaurants. However, with each State easing restrictions to varying degrees, reflecting current transmission and infection rates, our latest research identifies significant variation in how people in different states are responding.
South Australia, Western Australia and to some extent Queensland are seeing higher-than-national-average activity, whereas Victorians are significantly more nervous about returning to live venues than those in other states.
Global insights – Australia, UK, Germany
9 June 2020
Gemba’s latest consumer research in the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia shows the expected change in spending habits post COVID-19. Eating out, live sport and entertainment events are expected to take a back seat to higher order requirements such as groceries, health and medicines.
Grim outlook? The impact of an economic downturn on the sport & entertainment industry
26 May 2020
Consumer confidence dropped in April to lows not seen since the early 1990s recession. Despite a rebound in May, confidence remains well below pre-COVID levels. Gemba research highlights that two thirds of Australians have a relatively negative outlook on their own personal financial situation over the next 12 months, and this flows through into forecast discretionary spending.
While staples like groceries and health are forecast to track at about pre-COVID levels of spending, Gemba research has found that more than 40% of Australians expect to spend less on things like eating out, live sport and entertainment.
But what changes and innovations will this drive among event promotors, venues and sports? Cheaper, more flexible ticketing and membership options? Connecting Australians’ stated desire to spend more time with friends and family post-lockdown, with their passions for sport and entertainment to deliver “family reunion” event promotions?
Returning to sport and entertainment venues after Coronavirus
19 May 2020
Hand sanitiser and face masks are not the answer.
While a return to full stadiums, cinemas and music venues still seems a long way off, as some restrictions start to ease around the world we asked Australians what measures will be most important in giving them the confidence to return to live events in the absence of a vaccine.
Physical social distancing in queues and seating ranks as the most important measure for venues to implement – well ahead of temperature checks on entry, hand sanitiser or face masks. But for many, no measures a venue could implement will entice them to return to live sport, which looms as a significant concern for sports organisations, venue operators, ticketing agents and sponsors.
We also investigated the challenges of getting to and from the live venue, and found that for many, the risks of travelling by public transport is the bigger worry.
Reconnecting with family through sport, music and movies
12 May 2020
Our latest research tested Australians’ plans for what they expect to do more or less of once social live can resume as normal. There was negligible change in the results from a month earlier , with 30-40% of people still predicting they will attend live sports, live music events or the cinema less than they did before the crisis, and instead plan to spend more time with family.
Sports, event promotors and cinemas may want to think about how they can position as family events, to entice fans to attend with family as a way to reconnect around shared passions.
We also asked about intent to re-subscribe to sports streaming services when sport picks up again. Almost 60% of those that have suspended subscriptions say they are certain or at least likely to resubscribe.
Physical activity during the lockdown
29 April 2020
Despite the visible signs of families cycling, walking and running through the suburbs, Gemba research suggests that 44% of Australians are actually doing less physical activity now than before the Coronavirus lockdown.
But the constraints of lockdown are forcing many of us to try new activities (a quarter of Australians have taken up a new form of exercise during the lockdown), and to explore online fitness classes and tools. More than half of 18-29 year-olds are walking more now than they used to, and a third are running more.
In this report we also explore the link between physical activity and mental health during lockdown.
New Zealand sports and entertainment consumer research
28 April 2020
New Zealand has managed the spread of COVID-19 better than most nations, with strict lock-down protocols enacted early and a resulting low rate of transmission of the disease. NZ could be one of the first markets globally to be in a position to re-open professional sport.
Gemba’s research on NZ fans and their attitudes towards sport cancellations and postponements, likelihood to retain or cancel subscription TV, what they are doing as alternatives to watching live sport, and many other insights are collated in this consolidated report.
Getting back to live sport: What fans are feeling about returning to games
20 April 2020
We are a long way from returning to normal. Victoria’s Chief Health Officer has hinted that mass gatherings at sports stadiums won’t be possible until 2021. Gemba research shows that a third of sports fanatics say they won’t feel safe attending a live sports event until a vaccine is available.
And worryingly, 16% of sports fanatics say they are not missing sport at all during the lockdown. Will sports lose these fans after the crisis ends?
This report includes the latest insights into how Australian fans are feeling about when, and under what circumstances, sport should return, and whether they will feel safe attending games.
Sports club membership and digital engagement during COVID-19
9 April 2020
We ask Australian sports fans and members of professional sports Clubs their attitudes towards continuing to pay for membership even when there are no games to attend. And we look at how fans are responding to the feast of digital content sports leagues and clubs are producing during lock-down.
Subscription TV and digital sports streaming services at risk
7 April 2020
Gemba Insights research shows that over 40% of the sports subscription and streaming market have already unsubscribed, or are considering unsubscribing, from these services. This coincides with a significant reduction in search interest for Kayo and Optus Sport as live sport in Australia and around the world has shut down.
This report also looks at which sports organisations Australians think are handling the situation well or poorly, as well as at what sorts of activities – from attending lives sport and music events, to going to the cinema or spending time with family – Australians expect to do more or less of once restrictions ease.
How are sports fans filling their time, in the absence of live sports?
30 March 2020
Australians are filling the gap created by no live sport by watching TV and keeping up with the news, with women in particular spending more time on social media. Sports fanatics tuned in to the first games of the AFL and NRL season, and seemed to enjoy the broadcast despite the lack of any crowds in the stadium.
We also asked fans which sporting events they were most disappointed about the postponement or cancellation of.
Consumer sentiment on cancellation of events
16 March 2020
Conducted early in the COVID-19 crisis, this research looks at Australians’ attitudes towards sports events being cancelled or postponed in order to help slow the spread of the virus. A majority were supportive of cancellations, and while disappointed, most also said that cancellation of sports events won’t impact fans’ passion for those sports into the future.