The Future of Live Events and Sports

Update #28 — August 6, 2021

In our 28th update to the “Future of Live Events & Sports: The Re-Emergence of Fans Post Covid-19”, we closely monitor rising COVID-19 cases. We continue to track how our framework for understanding Fan Demand is impacted based on market-specific factors, venue initiatives, and fan avidity.  We have sifted through all the noisy data to bring you insights on how live events and sports will be different because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this update, we explore:

Market Analysis

The KAGR Fan Demand Index jumped significantly (+10%) over the last two weeks despite concerning COVID-19 trends with several markets experiencing large fan demand increases. Of note, Indianapolis (+35%), Tuscaloosa (+26%), and Milwaukee (+23%) saw meaningful positive changes while New Orleans (-7%) and Miami (-7%) dropped back. 

Recent confirmed COVID-19 cases soared 350% on average with several markets including Boston (+900%), Washington D.C. (+800%), and Tuscaloosa (+700%) far above.  Despite these large jumps, both Boston and Washington D.C. remain amongst the lowest case numbers per capita (Boston at 1.0 cases per 1,000 and Washington D.C. at 0.9 per 1,000).  The eligible market population currently vaccinated (with at least one shot) is up 4.3% to a total of 56% vaccinated over the last two weeks.

Consumer and economic indicators had a meaningful impact on the KAGR Fan Demand Index this week with increases across several areas. Consumer behaviors were up 3% on average across markets (with Boston experiencing the largest increase, +10%), dining and entertainment activity is up 2% (led by Indianapolis, +87%), and air travel is up 7% with all markets experiencing increases.

As daily activities adjust due to rise in Delta Variant and COVID-19 cases, we examine the impact of the pandemic on go-forward fan demand and behaviors. This week five markets experienced meaningful change; specific highlights include:

* KAGR Fan Demand index uses a variety of market data including COVID-19 factors, economic indicators, and other consumer behavior information. Impact to Pre-Pandemic Behaviors is defined as percent change of market indicators from pre-pandemic levels.

Exploring Regional KAGR Fan Demand Index Trends

* Regional breakdowns include:
·       Midwest (MW): Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St Louis
·       Northeast (NE): Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington DC
·       Southeast (SE): Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, Tampa, Tuscaloosa
·       Southwest (SW): Austin, Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Las Vegas
·       West (W): Denver, Los Angeles, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle

To better understand changes in the KAGR Fan Demand Index over the past quarter, we explore regional trends:

Fan Avidity at a Glance

This week we explore strong indicators of both demand and willingness to return to live events, while viewership woes continue for this summer’s Olympics.

The Live Nations Q2 earnings highlighted soaring live event ticketing results indicating both a strong willingness of fans to return to live events and pay for those experiences:

Viewership continues to decline even as NBC airs the Olympic games in primetime across several channels and streaming outlets:

Fans are indicating clear interest and demand for live in-person events – a great sign for end of summer and fall sports and events. However, as we have seen for some leagues and teams, this surge may not last and can be particularly challenging in markets most impacted by the pandemic.  Sustaining interest and demand will not only depend on team and player performance but is likely to require new and innovative ways for fans to experience events and engage with teams. If primetime Olympics viewership is any indication, “one size fits all” content is no longer viable. Driving ongoing buzz and interest for events, on par with June’s results, will require increased understanding of the fan, their needs, and how to deliver in a timely, efficient, and engaging way.