By Rick Horrow

What does the future of sports look like? It’s shaping up to be more interactive than you might think, especially for spectators on the sidelines. Who stands to gain as borders evaporate, new forms of competition take center stage and consumer preferences evolve—and how?

Let’s review five areas that will define the next 50 quarters of sports and how you can capitalize on these trends moving forward.

#1: Esports & gaming
Coming off of an astronomical rise in popularity, Esports aren’t going away anytime soon. Similarly, the video game industry continues to expand, and is expected to reach $219B in revenue by 2024 (Washington Post). As professional sports teams invest in eSports, younger generations continue to turn out in droves to watch and interact. The streaming space plays a huge role in connecting professional players and their fans.

#2 Payments & currency
Now that college athletes have the ability to earn money off their name, image and likeness (NIL), opportunity is exploding for them around the country. While things are a bit like the Wild West at the moment, regulations will inevitably follow. Making sure athletes are paid and have easy access to the data for compliance sake will be important for schools and teams.

#3 Web 3.0
First, what is Web 3.0? It refers to the next stage of development in the internet. In the current iteration of the internet, Web 2.0, content creators enjoy earning power, but they’re also beholden to the third-party platforms they use to interact with their followers. Web 3.0, by contrast, will be decentralized such that platforms won’t “own” fan relationships, putting that power in the hands of content creators instead.

Without the middlemen, content creators will be free to interact more directly with followers and fans. Platforms hoping to stay relevant will need to shift their focus from offering a “meeting place” to providing tools that facilitate and/or enhance the creator/fan relationship.

#4 Venues & facilities
For younger generations, it’s all about the experience—not things. They’re spending more money on live entertainment, spectator sports, theme parks and travel than product-oriented services. As more and more young people look to live events for entertainment, venues and facilities will need to provide unique, differentiated experiences, even for something as simple as buying merchandise on-location.

The challenge for venues and facilities is handling the increased demand, given that they currently rely heavily on hardware and software solutions. They’ll need systems that can handle payments, including the increasing acceptance of cryptocurrency, to facilitate a unique, intuitive and simple purchasing experience.

#5 Globalization
Fandoms are becoming less and less tied to geographical location. Fans interact with one another from around the world and will continue to seek more accessibility from decentralized networks. Target markets and dedicated fans who spend good money will flock to whatever systems give them the greatest freedom and return on investment for using their platform.

Capitalizing on these trends
So how can we prepare for these upcoming trends? Integration and ease of access will be key across the board as the global population looks for ways to onboard using their smartphones.

Fans are going to be more involved with their favorite teams than ever, and they’ll be able to support and even make money backing their favorite athletes. Both sides will need an ecosystem or platform that supports these interactions.

Start with Staks
StaksPay™ is a digital ecosystem designed specifically to meet the needs of tomorrow’s content creators and gig workers. Customizable to the unique needs of a variety of markets, users gain access to financial services, content sharing and instant documentation that free them from dependence on third-party payment processing and social media solutions.