Diversify revenue streams in sports


Sports organisations the world over are often recognised for their on the pitch achievements but not for their ability to diversify revenue streams off-the-field. World-class players, high-ranking positions, sponsorship deals and legions of fans all contribute to the success of sporting businesses. However, what about off the pitch? What strategies are sporting clubs implementing behind the scenes to achieve the same level of success commercially?

Diversifying revenue opportunities

Identifying alternative revenue streams, or enhancing existing revenue streams, is just one approach that some sports organisations have recently been adopting. The reasons for applying such a strategy are wide and varied, but increasing ticket prices for sporting events (resulting in a decrease in attendance), increased local, lower league competition and under-utilised seats and venues have all lead to sporting clubs looking at how they can continue to achieve success, and generate income, off the field.

One recent example of this strategy being applied is that of British horse racing organisation, Jockey Club. Jockey Club own and run 15 racecourses throughout the UK, including Aintree and Cheltenham racecourses. Recognising that when not facilitating horse racing, their courses were going unused, Jockey Club launched a series of racing+music’ nights in 2011 that continue to this current day. This new income stream contributed to 16% of Jockey Club’s annual 1.9m footfall in 2011, attracted almost 300,000 people in 2013, and made Jockey Club the UK’s 6th largest music promoter.

Utilising the facilities of sporting venues whilst not in use is becoming a common way to encourage footfall to venues and massively increase revenue for sporting clubs, not only through ticket sales and venue hire but also through ancillary revenues from food and beverage and merchandise sales.

A good example of a sporting business that is enhancing one of its existing revenue streams is motorsport venue Silverstone, home to the British Grand Prix. The venue already attracts a large number of attendees to the annual Formula One Grand Prix (F1GP) event over 290,000 people attended the event in 2013. However, wanting to capitalise on the event and the throes of people that attend, from 2015 Silverstone will be turning the occasion into a 4-day entertainment event, putting on concerts and parades in a bid to make Silverstone the ultimate entertainment venue. Another tactic the venue will be deploying is a new child policy that will see under-11s attend the event for free. Not only will this move ensure a better value for money experience, but it will also improve the appeal to families, widening the audience the venue can target with other offers and promotions.

Starting at the roots

But it is not just the big clubs that are taking action to open up new revenue streams. Smaller, local grass-roots clubs are also recognising the importance of finding new ways to increase revenues and attract new audiences. With a recent cash injection of £50,000 from Sports England’s Inspired Facilities programme, Tottington St. Johns Cricket Club in Lancashire has been able to extend its pavilion, upgrade its changing facilities and install a third changing room to open the club up for mixed gender cricket. The revamp has meant that the club can diversify into women’s cricket appealing to a wider audience and hosting a variety of different events. It has already been confirmed that Tottington St. John’s Ladies Cricket team will be playing their home fixtures of the Women’s Northern League at the club next season, and that the club has formed a satellite club at Tottington High School, consisting of girls and women.

Whether you are a large sporting club with a global following, a smaller, local club with a community fan base, or even a venue hosting some of the world’s largest sporting events, diversifying into other areas could open up new doors for your club and venue, increasing your fan base and bringing in new sources of income. Competition between sporting businesses is a fierce as ever, with this in mind, it is imperative that sporting organisations start to think outside-the-box’ when it comes to drumming up new income streams, in an effort to raise the profile of your brand and for continued commercial success.

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