Sports and recreation brands are among the newest startup sub-sectors to have jumped on to the e-commerce bandwagon. The sub-sector is primarily characterised by platforms that deal in sports goods, sports-related services like club memberships, e-sports companies and platforms selling goods and services for outdoor recreational activities among the others.
According to a research report by HexGn that studied the funding trends in various e-commerce sub-sectors from 2014 to 2018, there was a 26.15% increase in the total investments raised in these five years. While 2014 recorded the highest number of deals and the lowest amount of investments, 2018, on the other hand, brought in the maximum amount of investments despite recording the lowest number of deals in the five-year duration.
Newer areas within the sports and recreation sub-sector that can benefit from the intervention of e-commerce applications include the creation of online marketplaces for getting sports coaching, rating for sports and recreation facilities, and listing for such facilities.
The number of sports and recreation brands that are choosing to become an e-commerce brand is plenty. Let us look at some of the top sports and recreation e-commerce startups from around the world moulding the sub-sector.
The e-sports brand combines the best of gaming technology, sports, and e-commerce solutions to create a dynamic platform. DraftKings is among the pioneers in the e-sports industry and was co-founded by Jason Robins,? Matt Kalish,? and Paul Liberman in 2011. The daily and weekly fantasy sports competition held on the platform has got a lot of participants thanks to the attractive cash prizes. DraftKings is a unicorn startup aiming to create a unique community of sports fans and is based in Boston.? It has made four acquisitions and completed eight rounds of funding to date. The company stole the limelight in 2018 with the completion of its Series F round raising an undisclosed amount from Manhattan Venture Partners.
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fuboTV is a subscription-based sports content streaming service company. The linear OTT subscription service started off with streaming soccer initially and today streams all the major leagues, college games, and other sports. fuboTV is headquartered in New York and was founded by Alberto Horihuela,? David Gandler, and Sung Ho Choi in 2014. It is backed by prominent media companies and is a pioneer subscription service in the USA that specialises in sports content. The platform has over 100,000 users and can be accessed via a host of web-based and app-based platforms like Roku, Android TV and Fire TV among the others.
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Digital fitness company Freeletics is helping several people around the world to stay physically fit through its AI-powered fitness plan. The Freeletics app is available in more than 160 countries and has got more than 32 million users as of date. This innovative Munich based startup was founded by Andrej Matijczak, Mehmet Yilmaz,? and Joshua Cornelius in 2013. So far, the digital fitness app has witnessed a monthly growth of up to 60% in terms of app downloads and has seen as many as over a million downloads in a month. Freeletics: Workout & Fitness and Freeeletics: Running apps are two of the most popular apps from the company.
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The next top sports and recreation e-commerce company on our list is The Players? Tribune which is a unique platform that lets athletes connect with fans in innovative ways. The company is headquartered in New York and was co-founded in 2014 by athletic duo Jayme Vessler and Derek Jeter. Fans using The Players? Tribune platform can get to interact with their favorite athletes through story-telling in the form of videos and podcasts. The company has secured $58 million so far and acquired another international athlete company Unscriptd in December 2018. The last and the biggest round of funding for the company was in 2017 when it raised $40 million in its Series B round of funding.
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Bengaluru based e-sports company Mobile Premier League is among the youngest e-sports brands around the world. It was co-founded by Sai Srinivas Kiran G and? Shubham Malhotra in 2018. The Mobile Premier League?s app offers six games as of date to its users. These users can also participate in online tournaments and win cash rewards.? The e-sports platform is skill based and is the largest one of its kind globally. ?Mobile Premier League has completed its first round of funding gathering $5 million in funding from lead investor Sequoia Capital recently, and the startup plans to develop its product further and expand its operations with these funds.
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Countries with Exceptional Sports and Recreation E-commerce Industries
In terms of funding, the US, China, India, Sweden, and the UK are the top five countries that lead with the highest investments in the world for 2018. The sports and recreation e-commerce industry in the US alone received over $200 million in the last year.
There are still several areas in the sports and recreation e-commerce arena that is yet to be explored.? The growing interest in sports and outdoor recreational activities and the convenience of shopping online is what has helped give rise to e-commerce platforms that specialise in sports and recreation goods and services. According to the Global Research Report by Grand View Research, the sports equipment market has been able to widen their customer base with the help of online marketplaces in recent years.
Let us look at two of the top countries where sports and recreation have created a secure place among the e-commerce sub-sectors.
Australia is among the top sports-loving countries in the world with a majority of the population actively involved in at least one sport. The rapid development of sports and recreation e-commerce sector in the country, therefore, is no surprise. The sports and recreation e-tail industry in Australia is currently growing at a rate of more than 3% YOY since 2016. Australian shoppers spent close to $1.4 million in 2016 on sports, recreational, and fitness goods online.? The growth of the sports and recreation e-commerce industry was further boosted with the introduction of government initiatives promoting active and healthy lifestyles.
The sports and recreation sub-sector in the American e-commerce industry is mainly characterized by e-sports companies and online marketplaces for sports equipment. According to the State of Ecommerce Report by Neto, the revenue in the American sports and recreation industry will grow at a rate of 9.9%? till 2022 provided that the trend of increased adoption of e-commerce solutions continues.? The efforts in creating awareness about healthy and active lifestyles especially to tackle the issue of obesity in Americans is a also a key factor that has helped in shaping the sports and recreation sub-sector within the e-commerce industry.
E-commerce Trends that will Rule the Sports and Recreation Industry in 2019
Here are the top trends for 2019 for the sports and recreation e-commerce industry that are bound to catch up in the coming years.
An increased number of sports content streaming services are expected to enter the market. These platforms will most likely involve the use of advanced technology like augmented and virtual reality to make the already exhilarating experience of watching sports even more exciting, advanced, and convenient.
Apps that help in maintaining an active lifestyle through outdoor recreational activities will also be on the rise in 2019. An increased application of AI and machine learning can also be expected in this domain.
The sports and recreation sub-sector is a relatively new area in the e-commerce industry. It will be exciting to see how the investments trends will change with the entry of new players, especially in the sports goods e-tail segment.
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