The relative wealth of the middle class is already shrinking, but automation and robotics will further accelerate the decline. Who in the future will be spending time and money experiencing sports, and how will their relationship with sports be different?
Some futurists predict that by 2030 over 2 billion jobs will disappear thanks to automation. Driverless cars will wipe out taxis and delivery vehicle drivers, as well as staff for parking lots, traffic courts, and traffic police departments. Kiosks, smart vending machines, and scanners are eliminating cashiers. Robots are replacing farm hands, fast-food preparers, and soldiers. Teachers will be lower paid as education gets disrupted by online courseware.
Income disparity trends may be suppressing the salaries of individuals — but most households that make up the middle class now have two earners. Those two-income families are the ones who, for the near-term future, will still have the money to buy millions of smartphones, pay for the bonus cable TV packages, and buy tickets to games. Teams and leagues that successfully market to professional women will surge ahead of those that don’t.
With 3 billion new smartphone users coming online in the next five years, the most successful sports organizations will retool their branding and marketing to create global audiences, learning how to thrive on making less per fan from massively larger fanbases.