Targeting the 5 key sports fan behaviors that drive revenue

In the sports media landscape, fans are the lifeblood of clubs, leagues, and teams. In fact, about 71% of sports professionals in 2023 emphasized that understanding and meeting fan expectations was crucial to achieving their business goals. Fans fill stadiums, attract sponsors and advertisers, and fuel merchandise sales, platform engagement and even word-of-mouth business promotion. Most importantly, however, fans drive—you guessed it: revenue! 

Given this reality, it (literally) pays to maintain lasting relationships with your fans and understand how to engage them effectively. According to a study by Deloitte, fans who describe themselves as “fanatics” typically spend six times more annually than casual fans. So, whether it’s encouraging fans to make in-venue or in-app purchases, investing in sports fan engagement and long-term fandom results in better monetization opportunities and drives revenue growth.

But how can you effectively engage fans on your platform and create experiences that truly resonate to drive revenue? 

It starts by recognizing the key behaviors your fans exhibit and adapting your engagement strategies accordingly. At LiveLike, we recognize five main behaviors exhibited by sports fans: Watching, Ticketing, Social Media, Commerce, and Engagement. Each behavior is linked to specific revenue streams—such as viewership, ticket sales, social media interaction, merchandise purchases, and active platform participation—that when efficiently integrated into your digital strategy can establish a continuous loop of fan engagement that keeps users actively involved with your platform. 

In addition to identifying these behaviors, it is crucial to consider the level of fandom and engagement. Fans exhibit varying degrees of involvement on your platform, requiring different engagement strategies and, in turn, driving different revenue drivers for your business. 

As we look ahead, it is clear that the future of sports engagement lies in hyper-personalized, fan-focused experiences. In 2024, organizations that fail to recognize and target these fan behaviors risk losing users to third-party platforms. In this blog, we will examine the five core fan behaviors that drive revenue and discuss why integrating them into your fan engagement strategy is crucial for your business’s success and longevity.

Brands that want to effectively engage fans, enhance platform experiences, build brand loyalty, and maximize ROI need to understand their audience enough to predict fan behaviors and tailor their fan engagement strategies accordingly to deliver targeted incentives and personalized experiences.

So, let’s get into it!

The 5 Key Sports Fan Behaviors That Drive Revenue

As we covered, understanding the five major revenue-driving behaviors is essential for any sports organization aiming to thrive in today’s competitive landscape. By identifying and leveraging the behaviors their unique fans are likely to exhibit, clubs, leagues, and teams can craft strategies that not only engage and delight their fans but also drive significant revenue growth. 

With this foundation, let’s dive into the five key sports fan behaviors:

  1. Watching: Fans today have myriad ways to consume sports content, from traditional broadcasts to OTT platforms, bite-sized content, behind-the-scenes documentaries and more. By integrating engagement mechanics into video content, organizations can boost user engagement and retention rates, driving both subscription growth and ad revenue. Enhancing the viewing experience keeps fans connected, whether they’re watching live games or catching up on highlights.
  1. Social: Social media has revolutionized fan interaction. Following, liking, sharing, and commenting on content are now fundamental parts of the fan experience. By fostering active brand engagement on social media, organizations can increase brand visibility and impression metrics, leading to higher ad revenue and more lucrative sponsorship opportunities. What’s more, LiveLike offers a solution to keep fans engaged on proprietary platforms by creating social media lookalike experiences directly within your own channels. This approach similarly targets the key fan behavior of Social interaction, boosting platform traffic, increasing registrations and enhancing overall engagement.
  1. Ticketing: Live events remain a cornerstone of the sports experience. Ticket sales, along with venue-based revenue streams such as food and beverage purchases, significantly contribute to overall revenue. Driving purchasing behaviors in venues not only enhances the live experience but also increases the average order value per user. Every aspect of the in-venue experience, from merchandise to parking, offers an opportunity to engage fans and boost revenue.
  1. Commerce: Merchandise connects fans with their favorite sports teams in a tangible way. Both in-venue stores and online platforms are vital for merchandise sales. Incentivizing purchases increases buying frequency, benefiting merchandisers and sponsors alike. By offering exclusive and compelling merchandise, organizations can keep fans engaged and eager to show their support.
  1. Engagement: Interactive experiences like fantasy games, predictor games, fan zones, live interactions, and Q&As add a unique layer of engagement. These activities not only enhance the overall fan experience but also keep fans actively involved with the brand. Integrating these elements into a digital strategy ensures continuous engagement, encouraging fans to return and interact regularly.

Leveraging LiveLike Quests and Loyalty Rewards Tools

The LiveLike fan engagement suite equips our clients with the tools necessary to target these five major behaviors and hyper-personalize user journeys on their platform. 

Whether targeting hardcore fans that exhibit all five behaviors or casual fans engaging on social media (Social) and tuning in for game days (Watching), our Quest feature seamlessly facilitates the unique nature of your user journeys. Quests involve customizable tasks that users must complete to achieve certain goals and earn rewards on your platform. 

Similarly, LiveLike now offers Quests focused on social media interactions to bridge the gap between social media and proprietary platforms. Social Media Quests establish a win-win scenario for your organization and users. By encouraging and rewarding user actions on connected social media platforms, these specialized Quests similarly drive further engagement and revenue for your business.

What’s more, with our extensive loyalty rewards system, incentivizing users to complete these tailored quests becomes even more seamless. Combining quests with strong loyalty systems allows for the creation of hyper-targeted user journeys. Quests drive initial engagement by encouraging users to perform specific actions, while loyalty rewards incentivize continued engagement and foster loyalty over time.

Examples & Benefits of Loyalty Rewards:

  • Points-based systems: Allow users to earn points for various behaviors such as app usage, social media sharing, or purchasing merchandise, which they can redeem for exclusive rewards or discounts.
  • Tiered loyalty programs: Users progress through different tiers based on their level of engagement, unlocking increasingly valuable rewards and benefits at each stage that correlate with their exhibited fan behaviors.
  • Encourages long-term engagement: Motivate users to continue engaging with the platform to earn rewards and climb the loyalty ladder.
  • Enhances brand loyalty: Offer exclusive rewards and benefits strengthens the bond between fans and the brand, increasing customer retention and advocacy.

How Do These Efforts Affect Monetization?

Introducing new engagement tools helps local broadcasters remain competitive and expand their viewership, leading to significant potential for monetization. 

These community-building tools directly impact user retention and session duration, leading to more advertising and sponsored content consumption. In other words, longer sessions and increased retention translate to higher ad revenue, as advertisers are willing to invest more in platforms that attract and retain engaged audiences. Moreover, enhanced engagement exposes users to a greater number of ads and sponsored content placements strategically integrated into the platform. As users interact with community features, they naturally encounter these advertising opportunities, increasing their value to advertisers. 

Additionally, the data collected through these engagement tools provides broadcasters with valuable insights into user preferences and behaviors, enabling them to optimize ad placements and sponsorship deals. Leveraging this data-driven approach, broadcasters can tailor their monetization strategies, offering personalized subscription options and attracting new sponsors/partnerships based on comprehensive traffic metrics and user data. 

Ultimately, the integration of engagement tools enhances the user experience while unlocking diverse revenue streams, ensuring the long-term profitability and sustainability of local broadcasting platforms.

Tailoring Your Platform Incentives: Fan Strategy Examples

By comprehensively understanding your audience, you can tailor your approach to best serve their needs and desires through targeted incentives and personalized experiences. Let’s look at some examples of how to craft user journeys depending on the type of fan you are targeting and the behaviors they are likely to exhibit:

Hardcore Fan: In the case of a hardcore fan who frequently attends games and shows extensive engagement across multiple platforms, rewards like limited edition tickets and seat upgrades, early access to content, or VIP packages offering exclusive interactions with their idols would likely be the most effective incentives. While the sky is the limit with hardcore fans, as they are most likely to exhibit all five core behaviors, it is most effective to show your appreciation for their loyalty withperks that are exclusive, limited-edition, or VIP-focused.

Casual Fan: On the other hand, a casual fan who occasionally attends events, sporadically engages on social media and only sometimes participates in fan communities is typically more motivated by convenience and quality of engagement. Incentives for a casual fan may include rewards like discounted tickets or merch, easy access to highlights and recaps, and opportunities to win prizes through simple contests or sweepstakes.

Active Fan: For an active fan, who falls between the casual and hardcore extremes, engagement levels and fan behaviors are likely to be more balanced. They may attend events or participate in fan communities, but not to the same extent as hardcore enthusiasts, and their commerce involvement may be moderate. 

Active fans are likely to be motivated by exclusive content or ticket access and building social connections within the fan community. While they value convenience and affordability, they are likely more willing to invest more for a fuller fan experience.

The Future of Hyper-Personalized, Fan-Focused Experiences

Fan engagement isn’t just about keeping stadiums full or boosting merchandise sales; it’s about fostering a deep connection between fans and their favorite teams. That said, this connection translates into substantial financial benefits, and organizations that prioritize fan engagement are better positioned to enhance their brand loyalty, maximize ROI, and stay competitive in an increasingly crowded market.

By leveraging LiveLike Quests and Loyalty Rewards, sports organizations can guide fans through personalized journeys that take into account their likely fan behaviors, encouraging deeper engagement and continuous interaction. By offering rewards and incentives that resonate with different types of fans—whether they are hardcore, casual, or active—brands can ensure that they meet the unique needs and preferences of their audience.

As we look toward the future, it’s clear that tailored, fan-focused experiences will be the key to success. Organizations that embrace these strategies and invest in understanding their fans’ behaviors will not only thrive but also build a community of loyal, engaged supporters. By doing so, they will secure their place in the ever-evolving sports media landscape, driving revenue and ensuring long-term success.

So, gear up and make fan engagement the cornerstone of your strategy—because in the world of sports, the fans truly make the game.

Get in touch to learn more about the 5 core fan behaviors or to find out how LiveLike can enhance your platform experience.

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