Sam Fowler: How influencers in sport are changing the game

KSI vs Logan Paul II was arguably one of the most talked about boxing events of 2019, merging the world of YouTube influencers with that of professional sports. 

The event, which was streamed live on DAZN and Sky Sports, has raised the possibility of broadcasters utilising media personalities such as YouTube influencers to tap into the Gen Z market.

InsiderSport spoke to Sam Fowler, senior account manager of The Goat Agency, to discuss the role that influencers can play in revolutionising the sports industry. 

Specialising in influencer marketing opportunities, the Goat Agency manager also detailed how the boxing scene can benefit from media personalities, and the lessons it can learn from football influencers.

Fowler stated: “Let’s look at the audience of boxing, what do we normally think? We think they are older men, we think that they are in their late 20’s. Now we are introducing an audience who are actually primed into boxing as well. We are taking an audience who has grown up with the likes of KSI and putting them towards boxing.

“I’m genuinely hopeful that influences are going to be a part of bringing the audiences back to boxing.”

YouTuber boxing has been a controversial topic since Joe Weller and KSI faced each other over two years ago, with the bout becoming the biggest white-collar boxing event of all time. 

Boxing purists felt that by having amateurs fight in a boxing ring, it detracts from the sport’s global audience. Nevertheless, Fowler believes that influencers can bring an entirely new audience to boxing, while also encouraging younger fans to continue watching professional boxers such as Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Vasyl Lomachenko

According to Fowler, the partnership will be even more accepted if influencer/ professional boxer cards start to become more apparent such as Billy Joe Saunders’ world title fight being on the undercard of KSI Vs Logan Paul II.

The Goat Agency manager added: “I think it’s all about cooperating with the full-time boxers. It’s getting the influencers to do integrated content with them. If we want to do tie-ins with each other why don’t we try and get Anthony Joshua and KSI when they have got a one to one interview.

“I don’t think there needs to be that separation of them as well. We all saw how many people went out to las vegas for the fight. It was astonishing. It’s huge for the sport to integrate those younger audiences as well.

“Why don’t we try and integrate that further? Why don’t we have channels who are boxing channels promoting the fact that these guys are not to be taken as a novelty act, they are to be taken as serious boxers who are wanting to expand their repertoire.”

Through platforms such as Twitch and YouTube, media personalities are not just infiltrating the world of boxing. There has also been proven successes in how football has adapted to this new marketing strategy. Football clubs will sponsor professional streamers who play a variety of games to garner a younger audience, and increase the club’s brand appeal, among other tactics as Fowler discussed.

He concluded: “We work with influencers around all different spaces. We have influencers who are interested in their cycling, we have influencers who are massive and their gym and their football as well.

Hashtag United is a fantastic example of something that started off as an influencer but is now seen as an actual relevant football club, they are competing at a professional level. So why can’t we take influencers at that level especially in the boxing space.”

It looks like influencer sporting events and strategies are here to stay, with DAZN’s recent willingness to air a variety of YouTube boxing events and Eddie Hearn’s recent involvement in transcending the boxing scene to this new opportunity.

The success of content creator sporting projects has been a proven success, Hashtag United is arguably the most popular football club in non-league given its fanbase. Meanwhile, the highly anticipated Jake Paul vs KSI bout is expected to match, if not exceed, the revenue of the YouTubers previous Las Vegas fight.

Other sporting organisations will be looking at this growing trend and attempt to invest in this marketing solution. It might not long before we see other sports such as MMA, American Football or Rugby embrace this culture in a bid to tap into wider demographics, especially when it comes to reaching the Gen Z market.