Image: Instagram/ @monstasart
The G Brief addressed sports as an "old piece of human culture", dated back to the ancient Greek era in 776 BC. For tennis sports fans like us, we can relate to Wimbledon, the oldest tennis championship which was founded back in 1877. For decades, Wimbledon has been maintaining itself as the gentleman's game and keeping the dress code to strictly white on all players. Fortunately tennis is constantly evolving, with new technologies are being integrated into the spectators experience (like hawk-eye and 360-degree video), gears and even balls.
The question is, are the millennials excited about tennis? How do we get them to be interested in tennis? Do we actually know a lot about the millennials? The survey below could probably help us to get an insight into those questions raised.
a sport for old people: If you're a tennis fan, your baby boomer relatives are most likely interested in tennis too. Your mom could be either a Federer or Nadal fan. When you attend a tennis tournament, chances are you'll see a lot more fans in their 30s and older adults. A research done in 2007 (I wish I could find a more recent statistics) shows that 73% of the respondents who watched the US Open are 34 years old and above. You'd probably say you've seen a lot of young fans (read: kids) too. Even these Gen-Z may eventually grow out of the sport because there are probably larger things in life than tennis e.g. online games, football, etc. which are more mainstream and reasons for them to be in synced with their peers.
a cool and fashionable sport: Maria Sharapova is no. 30 in the 2015 Millennials' Athlete Index. Unfortunately, the highest paid female athlete is tainted by the failed dope test and has been banned from competing in the next 2 years. Although Sharapova is the only tennis player in the Top 40 of the 2015 Millennials' Athlete Index, there are many other pro tennis players like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray whom big brands like Nike, Uniqlo and Under Armour respectively are paying them millions to sign them on long term endorsement deals because of their significant influence to both young and adult consumers.
on television: According to a poll by Navigate Research, it was found that live sports viewing is down 16% among young viewers aged 6-17. One of the reasons millennials aren't all flocking to live streams of sports is that most sports streams are already tied to a paid TV subscription.
through online streaming: The New York Times reported that millennials just weren't getting TVs for their homes. The G Brief said based on the Forrester Research study, a relatively meager 52% of millennials were found to have watched live TV broadcasts recently. A particular graduate student told the New York Times that he thinks of TV as like a blender: “I may need one one day; it might be nice to have one. But it’s by no means essential". Furthermore, according to Poynter and The New York Times, millennials have shifted from watching sports on TV to watching online, which sports are one of the top ten topics millennials watch videos about online, with 25% saying they watched them. A focus group by Digitalist Mag shows, millennials are eager to gain easier access to online streaming, but don't want to commit to paid TV in order to do so.
live tennis match: Live sports experiences are getting more popular than ever. The Australian Open for example has recorded an attendance of 703k in 2015 smashing a previous record of 686k set in 2012. In 2016, 720k people attended the championship at Melbourne Park. Even more recent, the attendance at Wimbledon has increased from 484k in 2015 to 493k this year. Although the increase is not significantly high, it's enough to proof that live tennis experiences have not been affected by the influence of new media technologies.
social media: When it comes to choosing the best social media platform for real time tennis experience and engagement, nothing beats Twitter. The Australian Open itself has recorded 3.12mil tweets globally with a potential reach of 551,6mil in 2016. This is exactly how live tennis (or any other sports) are experienced these days. The ability to enable fans to comment and share special moments using GIF and Periscope on Twitter, and videos on Snapchat and YouTube has transformed how we watch and experience sports live.
In conclusion, tennis organisers need to be innovative when engaging with the millennials because they are participating in a more active kind of spectatorship through online streaming and social media. With the emergence of popular mediums such as virtual reality and 360-degree content, it's almost impossible to catch up and meet the demands of the tech-savvy young fans. Kudos have to be given to the Grand Slam tournaments for being able to execute their digital strategy in the most compelling and innovative manner making the tennis championships to stay continuously relevant.