With revenue having plummeted in 2020, sports clubs aren’t poised to simply make a comeback to pre-pandemic levels. Some forward-looking organizations are preparing for explosive, mind-boggling growth.

Here’s how.

Redefining an immersive, inclusive fan experience

After a year of social distancing—and the forced digitization acceleration that accompanied it—consumers of all kinds have shifted the way they consume, and expect to consume, content. Sports fans are no different. After watching from their couches, fans expect the future of sports to be highly interactive. They want live stats, chats with friends, 360° camera angles, and more, whether they’re in the stands or watching from home.

Organizations that are preparing for this consumption—like the Rams’ SoFi Stadium, the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, or the 49ers’ Levi Stadium—are ready to meet these expectations. From private 5G and paired WiFi 6 to DNA Spaces and IP broadcast network capable of streaming in 8K and beyond, this infrastructure will allow these teams—and their fans—to fully embrace the future.

Capturing new revenue streams

Today, fourteen states have legalized sports betting, with more surely to follow, soon. These bets will need to be placed and fulfilled in real time, on fast, simplified, secure networks, underpinned by 5G and WiFi 6.

With these technologies in place—buttressed by capabilities such as Open Roaming for even simpler sign-on—the venues are equipped to capitalize off these new possibilities. Frankly put, those without this infrastructure are in effect signing away these revenue streams to other, more proactive players in the betting space.

What’s more, some venues are taking cashless pay to a whole new level. Beyond touchless transactions, we envision a point where people pay with cryptocurrency. We aren’t talking about buying the latest team souvenir, but instead an NFT (non-fungible token)— a digital collectible that is part of a blockchain ledger, permanent and sellable. There will be a day in the near future where jaw-dropping plays in sports are instantly turned into an NFT and made available, with some fan in the stands ready to buy it with cryptocurrency.

Someone will be profiting off that transaction. The question to sports owners is: will it be you?

Leveling up the game

Technology is also redefining the game itself. Augmented reality is modernizing refereeing by eliminating the potential for human error and thus maximizing game fairness. It is also already revolutionizing team training: by overlaying data over the real-world environment, AR technology is helping players sharpen their performance. More powerful performance on the field (or court) leads to more exciting sports watching, which leads, of course, to more revenue for the organizations.

If, that is, they’re equipped for it.

Make the Move, Now

The time to prioritize investment in digital infrastructure, people, and processes—particularly as they pertain to fan data—is now. There are new audiences to be captured, existing fanbases to strengthen, and new revenue streams to monetize. And if your club doesn’t do it, someone else will.

There is no room for timidity on the precipice of such industry-wide change. Being bold isn’t the risky approach, particularly for those organizations working with the Cisco ecosystem of partners. We have the technology, the vision, and the strategy to help bring sports entertainment into the future and beyond.

Sports, and how they are consumed are changing, and they’re changing fast. The fans are ready, Cisco is ready, are you?


Ken Martin

General Manager and Director

Global Sales, Sports and Entertainment Solutions Group