None of us wanted to see our teams and athletes perform behind closed doors. But social distancing and the coronavirus (COVID-19) effect is here to stay & so our focus has turned to how we activate sponsorship, engage fans, replace VIP hospitality & serve up great content to media channels.

The early signs are very encouraging & there may be some unexpected benefits of the new innovations. So, let’s start with a quick look at the adaptations by brands and their hospitality guests on this, the re-start weekend of the F1 season in Austria, and a few days before the Austrian Open Pro golf tournament.

Let’s scratch the surface of a few of the ways that live sport is being packaged in the new era. Live streaming for VIP guests & signed up fans of ‘behind the scenes’ at an event sending a chef to cater for a guest whilst they watch their live feed. Virtual Reality headsets to explore a venue in a virtual world when they cannot visit it in the real world physically. Virtually supported meet & greets with athletes & commentators.

Now, we won’t try to persuade you that this offers the same opportunity to spend a whole day with an invited group of guests but necessity is the mother of invention & many of the new experiences will become the norm.

Turning now to you and me as regular fans of our favourite sports, evidence suggests that viewing figures over the last 6 weeks since German football restarted are the highest ever but more importantly the dis-satisfaction levels surveyed are surprisingly low. Yes, people might love or hate piped crowd noise but getting to see heroes competing is such a relief.

There’s another factor at work here too – many brands have wrestled for years with the crazy interpretation of ‘Bribery Acts’ around the world that have increasingly curtailed guests being able to accept hospitality above miniscule figures or even at all (we’re writing a separate blog on this topic shortly).

Our take is that authorities surely can’t have a problem with a Virtual Reality (VR) headset and a streaming subscription being provided in place of a ticket to the Monaco GP! This article has conspicuously avoided commenting on the impact to teams utterly reliant upon ticket sales to pay the bills.

There are no quick fixes for this community as they are often the minority sports or smaller teams with less capability to package up their live video content for social media streaming. We have to hope that sensible crowd numbers become allowed so that we can get to some decent attendance numbers as soon as possible.

But, in the meantime, we’re on hand to help all teams and stakeholders, large and small, design ways to engage their fans and even create revenues they never thought possible before. We’re open 24/7 to engage with you & find solutions right now.