Let’s stop using the “OLD FAN”​ excuse for why you haven’t gone digital as a sports team.

It’s something I hear a lot and drives me mad in the sports world.

Like really insane, because it is a misunderstanding of where attention is at all age levels.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the reason a team hasn’t gone digital is “We have a really old fan base that won’t adopt that technology”.

First. It’s wrong…and I have some stats on our digital contests to prove it.

Second, you are therefore saying you have no intention of grabbing the “new fan” who does have his/her head buried in their phones 24/7. This creates a vicious cycle that literally ends when your fan base does (sorry to get morbid).

But first, let’s resolve the idea that your older fans won’t adopt your digital initiatives.

OLDER FANS HAVE PHONES, AND THEY USE THEM.

I have some usage stats from our own contests we run at SQWAD, but first, let’s dive into some macro numbers:

  • 92% of people ages 30–49 own smartphones
  • 79% of people ages 50–64 own smartphones
  • 53% of people 65+ own smartphones

Let’s only look at the 65+. If you aren’t offering digital you are missing out at reaching half of that age demographic. Half of those people, who have disposable income, aren’t being engaged.

More frightening than that, 50–64 is 79%. This age demographic is prime for us in sports…usually, they have families. More tickets and a great sponsorship demo.

Looking at the numbers, you can’t afford to have the mindset that older fans won’t engage. The percentage game is too larger here to make a blanket statement.

Now let’s look at some numbers specifically with getting fans to interact with a mobile game.

At SQWAD, we make mobile contests to help connect fans to sponsors digitally during breaks in the game. Why? Because sponsors want to be on your fan’s mobile phone…they understand that is where the attention is.

I hear a lot that teams are worried their older fan base will not adopt the game and play, therefore it would be a waste of their time.

One of our clients (I can’t get specific) sees more than 70% of their player demographic on the mobile contest fall within the age range of 45–65+ years old.

70% of their fans (which this sport & team is very old school) in that “old” fans range interact with our game on the mobile phone and play…

If this team had that mentality that older people won’t engage on the phone…then they would have missed out HUGE on the sponsorship package they locked in.

Even better, this is the age demo the sponsor was looking to reach.

A bit of extremely qualitative data…we have a 94-year-old fan that plays one of our contests each game for a client. On her smartphone…no issues with understanding how it works…and she wins…a lot.

I find this idea that older fans don’t understand smartphones, with how mature the market is on smartphones. These people figured out computers, fax machines…you mean to tell me they don’t have the desire or cognitive function to play a contest on the phones that they use every day?

Is it the best way to reach them…probably not…But you can reach that at a high level with digital initiatives.

If you aren’t offering digital because you think your fan base is too old, you are missing out.

The second part for why this is a bad excuse: You are locking yourself into a cycle where you never gain young fans because you think your core older fan won’t engage.

Let’s take out the stats I just threw at you about older fans and assume that you are correct. Older fans don’t engage with digital.

Even if that were true…you are basically locking on your older fan because you’ll never have the tools to grab the attention of younger fans.

By saying you can’t offer digital assets because of your older fans you are anchoring onto your problem. You’ll never climb out because you’ll never offer the assets to attract the younger fan base.

I don’t think I need to tell you this…but this is how you kill your team. This is how companies like Blockbuster and Toys R’ Us died.

Please, let’s get this notion out of our heads that older fans aren’t digital. They are. You can reach them with digital assets.

And even if you couldn’t, it is a horrible strategy to not change with the times and reach the younger fan.

It is a bad excuse and strategy. It will kill your team & revenue.

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