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Unbundling sponsorship of women’s sports grew about 146% in 2021: Nielsen 2022 Global Sports Marketing Report

With the growth of connected devices, 40.7% of global sports fans now stream live sports through digital platforms leading to an increase in over-the-top (OTT) media rights

Sponsors are showing a keen interest in women tournaments with a sharp rise of 146% in unbundled sponsorship investment in women’s sports (UEFA, FIFA, World Rugby) over the year, compared to a 27% rise in 2020, as per Nielsen Sports’ ‘Fans are changing the game’ report.

Historically bundled with men’s sponsorship opportunities, often as an afterthought, properties are increasingly unbundling them amid rising interest and investment in women’s sports overall. The unbundling is giving sponsors new, varied opportunities to involve themselves across the broader sports landscape.

With more women’s sports being televised and increased sponsorship opportunities specific to women’s sports, many brands are effectively reaching consumers they weren’t reaching through sponsorships in men’s sport, as per the 2022 Global Sports Marketing report.

With the advent of technology and affordable internet services, live streaming of sporting events has gained a huge momentum. As per the report, connected devices has changed the way of a viewer’s experience. An estimated 40.7% of global sports fans now stream live sports through digital platforms. In turn, this has led to the increase in OTT media rights which includes a 19% jump for the top European football leagues over the last two years at the local level, and a 31% increase forecasted for the men’s tennis ATP Tour through 2023. 

It adds that the demand for content overall remains high with non-event broadcasts, such as highlights, recap videos, and more, it estimates 39.4% of global fans will watch non-live content related to a live sports event. Further, sports viewership has become a multi-screen experience, with 47% of people who watch sports simultaneously interact with other live content, increasing by 5% over the last year.

Blockchain companies investing in sports sponsorship is projected to reach $5 billion by 2026. This represents a projected 778% increase in sports sponsorship from the crypto, blockchain and NFT brand category. 

Over the year, this brand category has offered 1100% new sports sponsorship deals in 2021 as compared to 2019, while the same by automotive brands increased by 81% for the same period.

The exposure that big brand crypto efforts have across leagues and teams is also boosting awareness and interest among fans. As per the report, 52% of esports fans and 39% of sports fans say they are aware of crypto tokens, significantly higher than the general population. Not far behind, 24% of sports fans also express an interest in NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens).

Some other key trends identified in the 2022 Nielsen Sports Report are:

·      Sports sponsorship were up 107% in 2021. Through an analysis of 100 sponsorships in seven markets across 20 industries, Nielsen found that sports sponsorships drove an average 10% lift in purchase intent among the fanbase. Overall, Nielsen’s 2021 Trust in Advertising Study showed that 81% of global respondents either completely or somewhat trust brand sponsorships at sporting events.

·      Athletes have shown a higher potential to establish connections with fans, with 26% of avid sports fans who use social media for sports news saying that athletes are a great way to connect with brands and sponsors.


·     There were 2,254 publicly announced esport sponsorship deals globally in 2021 compared to 1,785 in 2020 making it one of the fastest growing segments of the global entertainment industry. In the last year, the female esports fan base grew by 19%, while the male fan base grew by 12%.

Marco Nazzari, Managing Director, International of Nielsen Sports, said, “From our work as a data-driven company and by surveying thousands of fans, it is clear to see that sports fans demand new types of content driven by innovative delivery platforms.  In turn this impacts how rights holders and brands should approach audience engagement and sponsorship outcomes. With sponsorship sophistication rising, measuring effectiveness at every step is now expected by brands. Predicting ROI and sales lift will be key for sports rights holders to remain relevant and secure marketing budgets from brands going forward.”

“As traditional and digital worlds merge, the sponsorship lifecycle is now broadening, creating additional and more well-rounded monetisation opportunities,” Nazzari said. “It will become vital for brands to leverage new technology and utilise digital platforms to develop fan-engagement strategies that didn’t exist before in linear broadcasting. The fan is now the catalyst for huge change.”

full report: https://www.nielsen.com/global/en/insights/report/2022/fans-are-changing-the-game/


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