The Future of Live Events and Sports

Update #31 — October 20, 2021

In our 31st update to theFuture of Live Events & Sports: The Re-Emergence of Fans Post Covid-19”, we 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 remained relatively flat (<1%) report-over-report. New Orleans (+6%), Miami (+3%), and Nashville (+3%) all experienced small increases with Houston (-5%) and Seattle (-5%) seeing slight setbacks.

On average, recent confirmed COVID-19 cases dropped 18%, driven by Tuscaloosa (-52%) and Florida markets (-50%). In particular, Orlando, Tampa, and Miami saw COVID-19 decreases as a result of improved state vaccination rates and “temporary immunity” stemming from past infections.  In several markets the impact of the delta variant remains, contributing to rising cases in Minneapolis (+38%), Detroit (+28%), and Denver (+17%). Vaccination rates have plateaued, with the eligible market population (with at least one shot) up 1.6%; this is the lowest week-over-week increase since vaccination rollout began in early 2021.

Consumer and economic indicators remained largely unchanged with one exception; dining and entertainment activity rose 7%.  New Orleans saw a significant increase in restaurant reservations (+58%) as the city recovers from Hurricane Ida.

We continue to examine the impact of the pandemic on go-forward fan demand and behaviors. This week Denver and Seattle both jumped back to Most Impact, after only one week at Moderate Impact:

* 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.

Fan Avidity at a Glance

We continue to collect, analyze, and test the KAGR Fan Demand Index against a variety of publicly available data sources. 

Note: 2021 data includes NFL data through Week 4, MLS data from July 11th through October 3rd, and MLB data from July 6th through the regular season on October 3rd

Fan avidity, as measured by attendance, is most significantly impacted in the Most Impact markets when comparing the 2021 season for MLB, MLS, and NFL to the same time period in 2019.  The most impacted market of that group is New York City (-24%), followed by San Francisco (-19%) and Washington D.C. (-17%).

Note: 2021 data includes NFL data through Week 4, MLS data from July 11th through October 3rd, and MLB data from July 6th through the regular season on October 3rd
* Excludes New Orleans Saints Week 1 from Moderate Impact due to relocation to Jacksonville

At the league level, MLB finishes the regular season with the largest decrease from 2019 (-18%), followed by MLS (-10%). Some league-specific highlights include:


While in person attendance continues to be a challenge for leagues and teams, there are some bright spots when it comes to viewership. 

With event attendance expected to be impacted for some time, overall engagement through viewership and other digital channels is a much-needed boost for leagues and teams. Fandom is strong – teams and leagues need to effectively find and engage these dynamic customer bases.  Opportunities to leverage technology and innovation with a data driven strategy will be critical.