The Lifestyle of Sports.

Published by Chris Botha


27 March 2023


I have been a sports fan for most of my life, watching sports was traditionally for a few hours on a Saturday which is no longer the case! Sports viewing is no longer about the event itself, there is a lot more to it. Jay Baruchel famously said, "I think sports makes for good drama because it has all the same ingredients as anything worth reading or listening to or watching. Conflict, desire, heartbreak – it is all there."

Sports platforms have realised that there is so much more to do for content. The game, match, and race of the event are beginning! What about the run-up to the event? What about what happens behind the scenes? What about the coaches, preparations, gym sessions, meal plans, and the oh-so-juicy politics that for years were hidden behind the curtain? All of this is changing!

First, we saw the Netflix series – Drive to Survive. Which has been a massive success on Netflix, the show brought on a bunch of new viewers to the sport of race – by taking the viewers behind the scenes of the sport. Drivers are no longer nameless faces behind helmets, team principals have emerged from deep within the team’s pit garage to be recognisable stars and the sport itself has propelled into the public consciousness.

The impact on the sport itself has been far-reaching. Formula 1 is no longer a sport for the diehard fan, around 108.7m viewers tuned into the 2021 Abu Dhabi finale and the ‘Drive to Survive’ influence on that cannot be understated.

In the USA, traditionally not a strong F1 market – estimations peg that there are now nearly 80% more F1 fans than there were 4 years ago. This has resulted in other sports following suit. There is Breakpoint (about tennis) and Full Swing (about golf) all hoping to follow an extremely specific model that ‘Drive to Survive’ created.

The UFC has a show called "Embedded" where they follow fighters in the week leading up to the fight tracking their meals, training, family and press commitments, and giving fight fans a sneak peek of the behind-the-scenes. These episodes attract millions of viewers on YouTube and make for great entertainment and content. The end game of course is to have more viewers tune in on the main event on the weekend.

Also fascinating, is how sponsors that might not be able to get access to the main event due to costs, now find ways to integrate themselves into this content. As advertisers, we love to see successful brand extensions and we also love to see audiences taken on a journey.

Long may this last!