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MIGRATION, TOURISM AND NEAR-UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO BROADCASTS AND SOCIAL MEDIA HAVE UNLOCKED BILLIONS OF POTENTIAL FANS — but they don’t live in your city, and don’t necessarily speak your language. The next 10 years will be a gold rush, as professional teams and leagues race to claim this emerging audience.

Global Vectors

  • USA

    GOLF The number of US golfers has dropped 24% from its peak in 2002. Nearly every metric—TV ratings, rounds played, golf-equipment sales, golf courses constructed shows a drop-off. _MMA After being banned 20 years ago by the governor, MMA in New York State is legalized again in May 2016 by a vote of 113 25._CRICKET ESPN2’s broadcast of the T20 World Cup final on a Sunday morning drew 2.4 million viewers. Three exhibition games of T20 cricket were played in American baseball stadiums, with 84,000 tickets sold._SOCCER Even though NBC paid $1 billion for the English Premier League rights, ratings in the US are 19% higher for Liga MX on Univision

  • UK

    GOLF Between 2004 and 2013, one in five golfers in England gave up their club membership; in the same period, membership dropped in Scotland by 14%. The story is similar in Australia and Japan—which has lost 40% of golfers from a peak in the mid-1990s._CYCLING After Sir Bradley Wiggins won the Olympic gold medal and the Tour de France in the same year, cycling became the new golf. Chris Froome’s three Tour de France wins have accelerated the trend. Sales of bikes manufactured in the UK are growing 69% annually._SOCCER 30,000 people attended the Women’s FA Cup final between Chelsea Ladies and Notts County Ladies, more than double the previous record. Across England, the number of girls and women playing soccer has increased by 40,000 in two years.


    PING-PONG The country that has won 23 out of 27 gold medals in ping-pong is falling out of love with table tennis. Television audiences of world championships have dropped 90% in the last decade._BASKETBALL Zhejiang Golden Bulls sign American star Brittney Griner for $600,000 a year—12 times what she was earning in the WNBA._FOOTBALL Interest in the NFL has grown from 1% to 8% in just the last two years. There are 16 teams in the American Football League of China, where all players must be Chinese or of Chinese descent._TENNIS A record 134 million people in China watched the 2011 French Open Final. There are 11 Chinese women within the top 200 tennis players in the world._SOCCER Chinese President Xi Jinping publishes a 50-point road map to make his country a world soccer power. The Chinese Super League promptly spends $300 million in the winter transfer window on top foreign players—more than Europe’s top five leagues combined. Four of the 10 highest-paid players in the world now play in China.


    CRICKET Though still the country’s #1 sport, cricket is losing its crowd-pulling power on television, creating massive opportunities for other sports. Television viewership for the game across all formats has dropped 40%. Over the last decade, the number of hours spent watching cricket has dropped almost half. Even the T20 India Premier League 2016 ratings are down 22%._FIELD HOCKEY Field Hockey, already the poor cousin to cricket, falls further from grace. At a player auction for a league restart, the best player in the world sells for less than $100,000. _KABADDI The first Kabaddi season championship between the Jaipur Pink Panthers and U-Mumba was watched by 86.4 million fans, approximately one out of every four viewers in India. The 37-day “season” attracted 435 million total viewers._SOCCER Over 68,000 spectators showed up at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata to watch Atletico beat Chennaiyin 2–1 in the 2015 Hero Indian Super League. Just two years old, the league averages 27,000 fans._BASKETBALL Punjab is the home of Satnam Singh Bhamara, who became the first Indian to ever be selected in the NBA. Skipping college, Bhamara became the 52nd pick in the 2015 NBA draft for the Dallas Mavericks._BADMINTON Following Saina Nehwal’s bronze medal at the London Olympics, India’s first-ever medal in badminton, the Indian Badminton League opens in 2013 with a $1M prize fund, the largest ever offered in the sport.


    HANDBALL For the Handball Euros, 75 networks broadcast the tournament to 175 countries. The event smashed attendance records. 70% of all televisions in Denmark were tuned in. That record was soon eclipsed by the DR1 League finals, which received an 80 share. Dane Hans Lindberg, who plays for Hamburg, earns 11 million euros a year


    CYCLING Over the last decade, cycling shot up from 13% of the population to 19%._BASKETBALL Australian Ben Simmons becomes the #1 pick of the Philadelphia 76ers._HOCKEY The Trans-Tasman Champions League of hockey Down Under was canceled due to financial problems. Attendance, regularly under 1,000 at the AIHL, sank the event against the New Zealand champions


    RUGBY After stunning South Africa, one-fifth of the entire Japanese population, with an audience share of 64%, tunes in to the Rugby World Cup to watch Japan beat Samoa 26–5 _BASEBALL The Japanese television audience for the World Baseball Classic is the highest-rated cable program in the country’s history, with larger TV audiences than the Olympics or World Cup._TENNIS Kei Nishikori of Japan rises to #4 seed in the world.


    HOCKEY Two of the three teams with the highest attendance in the Russian KHL hockey league—are actually in Germany. _FOOTBALL The New Yorker Lions from Braunschweig win their 2nd Eurobowl in a row, to go with their seven German Bowl titles. The Eurobowl has been played since 1986._CRICKET Immigration from Afghanistan and Pakistan stirs up cricket participation over 300%. The 100th registered cricket club is founded near the Czech border


    BASEBALL Yan Gomes from São Paulo becomes the starting catcher for the Cleveland Indians. Gomes signs a 6-year, $23 million extension with the club. FOX and ESPN broadcast 8 games a week, and ratings have doubled since 2012. _FOOTBALL 12,000 fans attend the American Football Gigante Bowl in Beira Rio. There are reportedly 3.3 million NFL fans in the country


    MMA Though MMA is still officially banned in France, World Warriors Fighting Championship (WWFC) utilized the MMA cage; police officers in attendance did not shut the event down._HANDBALL Even though Eurobasket sets a record for basketball viewers in France, the EHF Handball Euros draw even more French viewers.


    FOOTBALL The Polish American Football League has 74 teams in 36 cities. The Polish Bowl is played in front of 20,000 fans. It’s now the fastest growing sport in Poland. _MMA UFC Fight Night 64: Gonzaga vs. Cro Cop 2 drew over 10,000 to the Tauron Arena in Kraków, Poland.


    BASKETBALL Diana Taurasi skips the WNBA season to earn $1.5 million with UMMC Ekaterinburg— 15 times what she can earn in the US. _FOOTBALL 13.3% of Russians are now NFL fans _VOLLEYBALL All the highest-paid volleyball players were in Turkey; that changed when volleyball star Ekaterina Gamova signed a $1 million–a-year contract to play with Dinamo Kazan in the Russian Super League.


    HOCKEY Ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Korean national hockey team is bolstered by the granting of South Korean citizenship to six North American players who’ve been playing in the Asia League for Korean teams.


    HANDBALL The European sport of handball accelerates in popularity in Argentina after their national team wins the gold medal at the Pan Am Games and Diego Simonet becomes a star.


    FOOTY Australian rules football gains popularity in Zagreb. Four teams from Zagreb make up a six-team league, the CEAFL.


    HOCKEY When Anze Kopitar becomes a star in the NHL, youth hockey participation in Slovenia doubles. 1,500 people in Slovenia stayed up until 3 a.m. to watch a Stanley Cup finals game.


    RUGBY Rugby overtakes soccer as the country’s most popular sport. When Georgia played Russia in the European Nations Cup, 65,000 people crammed into the national stadium in Tbilisi.


    BASKETBALL The NBA hosts an exhibition between Team Africa (players of African descent) and Team World in Johannesburg, with special appearances from Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo


    BASEBALL Uganda becomes the first African country to send a team to the Little League World Series.


    FIELD HOCKEY Even here where the best in the world play, field hockey salaries are less than $100,000 and subsidized by club coaching and construction work.


    BASKETBALL The Boston Celtics play an exhibition against Olimpia Milano.


    TENNIS In the last five years, tennis
    participation has leapt 32%


    CRICKET At the T20 World Cup, Afghanistan shocks the world by beating the West Indies.

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