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4 reasons why sports mobile apps are a winning formula for the sports industry

Discover why the “new normal” and a growing surge in mobile sports consumption is creating a unique opportunity for sports brands to engage fans through unforgettable mobile digital experiences.

The sports industry has changed a lot since the global pandemic escalated back in early 2020. Empty stadiums, failed Covid-19 tests and ever-evolving government guidelines are constant impediments.
Off the field, sports teams and events are having to pivot and remain adaptable in a bid to keep competitions alive. Yet, despite the loss in ticket revenue and merchandise sales, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Sports mobile apps are enabling professional sports teams and event organizers to capture and enhance their audiences around the world. A prime example being the Davis Cup application, which generated more than 90,000 downloads in just one week and delivered 73% of the world with world coverage of the premier tennis event.

Allow us to explore the benefits of a sport mobile app in more detail.

“90% of mobile internet time spent on apps and mobile internet usage as a whole accounting for 52% of web-page views around the world”

Why your sports brand needs a mobile app

#1 Enhance the user experience and connect with fans

Mobile content, particularly streaming highlights and team news is king. With 90% of mobile internet time spent on apps and mobile internet usage as a whole accounting for 52% of web-page views around the world, having a sports team app has never been so important.

The internet has made it possible for fans to find team or transfer news, match highlights and club merchandise on-demand on your website. But it doesn’t mean they’ll always find it.
Type in team news for LA Lakers on Google and you’ll find several links to other websites before you get to the native club one.
The internet has made things so accessible that best SEO practices and optimized content can provide all the answers and coverage a fan needs without entering your website. Sure, it’s great that your fans are engaged and interested in your sport brand or event. But if they’re reading an article on ESPN, you’re not profiting from it.

Big Tech has advanced the media landscape, leaving traditional right holders playing catch up. A key example of this is the NFL’s recent deal with Snapchat to triple the number of highlights on the social media platform. While this might provide a greater element of accessibility to NFL fans, it doesn’t provide the exclusive and optimum experience the specific NFL fans crave. The best app for a sports team will centralize all communications and deliver a complete digital experience for its fans.
As an established entity in the sporting industry, you don’t need to sell your brand to fans – they’re already engaged. Sports fans aren’t like regular business customers. They have a perpetual relationship with the team or sport they love.
A centralized sports team mobile app helps your fans feel more connected to the club. So, having all the content they want in one place is going to tap into this need and offer true value.

#2 Provide an unforgettable mobile digital experience

To provide an exciting and memorable experience is at the core of the sports industry. Whether fans are watching in an arena, at home, or on the go, sport is engrained into every culture and brings people together. The key to tapping into this audience lies in your ability to deliver a premium digital experience in real-time. Now more than ever, fans are searching for meaningful and valuable content on the sport and teams they love. While building a strong social media is integral to a sports brand, generating 3 million likes isn’t going to tell you a lot about your fans.

A sports mobile app allows you to gather user behavior data within your native, centralized environment and use the findings to adapt and personalize the experience for your passionate fans.

“When it comes to watching video coverage and consuming content, sports fans don’t want to spend valuable time searching on multiple channels. Working from home during the pandemic has amplified the importance of connection and online integration. The need for speed, accessibility and a first-class UX/UI experience is imperative.

Mobile apps incorporating, Design Thinking, artificial intelligence (AI) and smarter technology give you the tools to identify users, create personas and use data to personalize the customer journey. This is an essential part of maximizing financial returns when ticket sales are down and broadening your global reach.”

Ricardo Rubin, Mobile App & Digital Content Consultant – Rakuten DX

#3 Engage fans – wherever they are

One of the biggest challenges the sporting industry has is trying to connect with fans from around the world. For instance, Manchester United F.C reportedly has over a billion fans and followers, but they don’t all come from England. Many sports enthusiasts are unable to watch a game in-person or live on TV. However, a sports mobile app brings all the fans to one place.

In today’s world, original content and highlights soon turn into yesterday’s news and are easy to scroll past on social media. Digitalizing sports events and content via a sports mobile app make these things on-demand and available at a time that suits your fans best. You can address all the facts in one place.

#4 Generate a constant revenue stream

According to The Future of DCB, 39% of smartphone users will access sports content using Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) by 2023.

The pandemic has systematically changed the way the world pays for things. Although the number of consumers paying to view content via their mobile phone bill or pay-as-you-go package was already on the up prior to Covid-19, the pandemic has simply accelerated the transition.

Nowadays, fans are willing to pay for live events on the smaller screen and the ability to access club or event-exclusive content. DCB offers a more universal and quicker way to pay. Sports fans don’t want to engage in lengthy sign-up payment processes. They just want to cut straight to the action.

Even when fans start flooding back to the grounds, clubs will probably need to use cashless payments and the best protocol information. The sports mobile app can offer this kind of exclusive capability and content.

A sports mobile app also enables you to maximize merchandise, with the sales usually generated from fans attending the events accumulated through in-app purchases. Again, it’s the benefit of having all types of content and revenue streams in one centralized place.

How long does it take to launch a sports team app?

There’s a common misconception that the app-building process is lengthy. This is true in most cases, with the launch and deployment stage usually taking 14-45 days alone.

However, with the right partner behind you, this doesn’t have to be the case. At Rakuten DX, our Design Thinking process, low-code/AI-driven technology and bespoke offering allow us to launch a sports mobile app within a matter of weeks or even days.

“Sports and business have so many things in common – teamwork, leadership, hard work, ambition, humility, respect and risk, just to name a few. Sport also has the ability to transcend language and cultural barriers and truly inspire us. This is why Rakuten has long had a special affinity with professional sports.”
Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten, Inc.

Over the years, we’ve worked with several global brands in the sporting industry, including FC Barcelona, the Golden State Warriors and the Davis Cup. Whether you’re a part of a major sporting event or brand, we can help you create a mobile digital experience your fans will love for many years to come.

For more information about our sports team mobile app services, talk with our experts today.