Insider Sport had the privilege of speaking with a huge range of sports business stakeholders and leaders this year, covering basketball to MMA from  the betting sector’s perspective.

Sports is of course a highly dynamic sector and various companies have an interest in it, and in 2023 the importance of the technology and data side of the business has increased to exponential levels.

For Eddie Lewis, a former teammate of David Beckham and Founder of TOCA, technology plays a key role in his firm’s approach to sports engagement, and he believes that American soccer is at an all-time high for reaching new audiences.

On the topic of football, the sport has not been short of headline grabbing stories this year, with the sudden influx of high-profile players to the Saudi Arabian league capturing many fans’ attention.

This poses a big commercial opportunity, according to Football Media CEO Dean Akinjobi, who cited the massive growth of football in the area as well as increases in investment witnessed.

Reaching new audiences has been a goal of many sports stakeholders in 2023, as various leagues and organisations seek to capitalise on an ever-digitalising era and a vibrant media landscape.

Towards the close of the year, the WTA and ATP signed a landmark partnership with Sky Sports. Insider Sport was able to gain some exclusive insights into the dynamics of this arrangement with Marina Storti, CEO of WTA Ventures.

Storti explained: “Our ambition with WTA Ventures is to grow the value of women’s tennis and help the WTA Tour to achieve its full commercial potential. We’re taking some encouraging early steps with these deals and there is much more to come.”

Over in the world of MMA, the sport continued to grow in 2023, and not just the market leader UFC. Notably, PFL acquired Bellator and ONE Championship secured a major boost to its visibility via a Sky Sports deal.

Focusing on the European MMA scene, Czech-based OKTAGON has extended its own profile via cooperations with Channel 4 and DAZN, and the firm’s CEO, Pavol Neruda, provided a breakdown of its fan engagement approach.

Of course, sports organisers and media companies are not the only stakeholders in the industry – bookmakers have a key role to play, most notably in the sport of horse racing.

William Woodhams, CEO of Fitzdares, explained how his company was seeking new ways to engage with the next generation of horse racing fans The Racing App, citing examples of the NFL and Premier League as models to follow.

Looking back, engagement was the key word of the year in sports business, particularly among organisations targeting an enhancement of their national and international audience.

The British Basketball League (BBL) has been growing at a strong pace in recent years, which has been well documented by Insider Sport. In our latest engagement with the league, we spoke to Head of Broadcast, Mani Gill, about some US-focused media deals.

“We’ve been very transparent in our ambitions to expand our global footprint and to bring the very best of British basketball to the broadest possible audience and both of these deals afford us the opportunity to do just that,” he said.

Finally, in the highly digitised world of modern sports, it is impossible to ignore the contribution made by the esports sector. At the ESI London 2023 event a star studded lineup of esports experts shared their views on the space’s development, as usual reported in detail by Insider Sport.

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