The popularity of pickleball among Americans has not yet translated into a large television audience. However, the major pickleball organizations remain optimistic about gaining viewers and attracting more people to play the sport.
Previously, pickleball relied on outside celebrities to attract viewers, such as hosting celebrity-packed tournaments or featuring former tennis legends in broadcasts. Similar to the “Beckham effect” in Major League Soccer, these efforts aimed to grow the sport’s popularity.
However, a shift is occurring, with actual pickleball players emerging as stars within the sport. Players like WNBA star Jewel Lloyd are gaining prominence through the efforts of major leagues like the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP), Major League Pickleball (MLP), and the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA).
These operations focus on image and employ strategies like producing coverage with Emmy-award-winning Intersport, providing mini tutorials on social media, and leveraging storytelling through YouTube and social media to engage viewers.
Dedicated Pickleball Arenas
Pickleball venues with broadcast capabilities are also gaining popularity to improve the viewing experience. Dedicated pickleball-specific venues equipped with lights and ample seating are being established, like Pictona in Daytona, Florida, which hosted the APP’s first tournament of the 2023 season.
Hybrid businesses are also emerging, allowing recreational players to gather in large and creative spaces that offer food, drinks, and pickleball facilities, such as Chicken-N-Pickle.
The game itself has become more physically demanding and intense. With increasing prize money and a faster-paced style of play, professional pickleball players now travel with personal trainers and occasionally receive IV treatments between matches. As the pros showcase their skills, amateurs are inspired to improve their game, leading to the demand for tutorials from professionals on platforms like YouTube.
Clothing Brand Awareness
Professional pickleball players understand that they are on display to audiences and potential sponsors, so they pay more attention to their appearance. Clothing brands like Nike, Fila, and Skechers have released pickleball-specific athleticwear and footwear, catering to the growing market.
Skechers, in particular, has gained market share with wealthy boomers, who make up a significant portion of the pickleball demographic.
Emotions are amplified in professional pickleball matches, and players are coached to be more vocal and assertive on the court. Theatrics, including yelling, heated exchanges with referees, and fan interactions, have become part of the game. Players’ reactions, both in victory and defeat, are often shared on social media, contributing to the excitement surrounding the sport.
As the stakes get higher, pickleball tournaments have implemented enhanced scoring systems. The use of cameras and off-court referees for line call challenges ensures fair play, especially in situations where significant prize money is involved.
Recently on our channel, we reported how Amazon Prime had announced the global streaming of PPA Tour events.
Additionally, gambling is set to become officially integrated into pickleball, attracting a new set of participants who may not be interested in the sport itself but enjoy wagering on the outcome. This move aims to keep existing players, and fans engaged while attracting new ones.
Overall, the world of pickleball is undergoing significant changes as broadcasting, venue development, athleticism, player image, emotions, and financial aspects evolve to enhance the sport’s appeal to a wider audience.
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