Global Sports Industry Soars to $1.3 Trillion

When Considered With A Broad View, The Global Sports Industry Tops $1.3 Trillion

The sports business means many different things to different people. This is a truly global industry, and sports stir up deep passion within spectators and players alike in countries around the world. To one person, sports are a venue for gambling; to another, they are a mode of personal recreation and fitness, be it skiing, cycling, running or playing tennis. To business people, sports provide a lucrative and continually growing marketplace worthy of immense investment. To athletes, sports may lead to high levels of personal achievement, and to professionals, sports can bring fame and fortune. To facilities developers and local governments, sports are a way to build revenue from tourists and local fans. Sports are deeply ingrained in education, from elementary through university levels. Perhaps we cannot state with confidence that sports enrich the lives of all of us, but they certainly entertain a huge swath of the world’s population. In addition to economic impact, the largest single effect that sports create is that of gripping entertainment: hundreds of millions of fans around the globe follow sports daily, whether via radio, television, printed publications, online or in person, as spectators or participants.

While it may not seem like it to the casual observer, the sports sector is constantly evolving in terms of personal tastes, popular games and technologies. In fact, the personality and popularity of a top athlete can have a tremendous impact on the current popularity of a particular sport—NBA basketball megastar LeBron James, who was recruited for the league directly out of high school, being a superb example with his extremely positive impact on basketball both at home and abroad. Lance Armstrong, at the peak of his popularity as a Tour de France winner, had an immense impact on the sport of cycling.

Meanwhile, many enigmas remain obvious in sports and recreation. For example, the number of people playing golf in America has been dropping over the long term, although audiences for televised golf events remain very large. Then there’s the fact that big audiences have been watching high-stakes poker tournaments on television recently. Does that qualify as sports broadcasting? It’s certainly a game. Moreover, thanks to the internet, fantasy sports teams and online betting on sports events are soaring. Meanwhile, electronic games have become one of the world’s leading industries, at more than $151 billion in annual, global revenues for 2019, including software, game consoles, mobile games and game subscriptions. In the minds of many people, competing against other electronic games players is a sporting activity, so much so that live electronic game competition now draws large crowds willing to buy tickets to watch top pros compete in person. This type of organized electronic game play is now referred to as eSports. Related leagues, tournaments and sponsors are growing quickly. Earnings can be very substantial for top players. On an amateur level, eSports are beginning to be recognized as legitimate sports activities at some schools. Dedicated eSports stadiums can be found in Germany, China and the U.S.

One of the strongest, long-term growth trends in the recreation business is in fitness-related activities. In the U.S. alone, health clubs enjoy 62.5 million members. Members visit their clubs an average of about 100 days each year.

Another 30 million Americans use exercise machines in their homes, according to Plunkett Research estimates. America’s roughly 70 million surviving baby boomers, with time and money on their hands plus a growing concern about their quality of life, will boost the health club and home exercise sectors further. (Sports and leisure revenues from the Baby Boomer segment will grow quickly. For example, “pickleball,” a racquet and ball game played on a court about one-quarter the size of a tennis court, is soaring in popularity with senior citizens.)

For everything you need to know about the global sports and recreation sector, see:
Plunkett’s Sports & Recreation Industry Almanac 2020


Available to Plunkett Research Online subscribers
See more information about the online edition here.

Also available in Almanac Editions.
Publication Date: July 2019 | Price: $379.99
Printed ISBN:978-1-62831-537-7
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62831-844-9
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