The DataPOWA view on the most important talking points in the worlds of sport sponsorship and digital.
The company polled 18,000 fans across 18 countries and found that football is ranked as the most popular sport in 12 and positions within the top 5 in four more. The United States and India are the only hold-outs.
The Premier League narrowly beat out competition from La Liga to be named the most popular football league, with 20% of the vote, but it’s only the 15th most popular sporting competition overall. The World Cup tops that list, while the Europa League is identified as a surprise success.
CSM’s Head of Insight Robin Meakin writes: “Our research confirms that football has an unmatched ability to appeal to people regardless of gender, age, location, culture or religion.
“While FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League grab many of the headlines, the sheer variety of global football competition means there are multiple opportunities for brands to get involved both nationally and internationally and associate themselves with this incredible sport.”
Sponsorship is on the rise but there remains concerns about its effectiveness, according to a new report from WARC.
Global sponsorship spend is set to hit $66 billion this year, with sport earning the most, thanks in part to the football World Cup.
However, many believe these investments go unchecked and unmeasured, leaving brands frustrated.
“As brands continue to jostle for a finite amount of consumer attention, the changing way in which media is consumed has led to the fragmentation of audiences,” said WARC’s data editor James McDonald.
“Yet sports generate an engaged, mass audience which sponsors can reach, before amplifying their campaigns via social media and experiential events.
“Sponsorships facilitate the upper part of the sales funnel – driving brand awareness and consideration – in much the same way as TV. This can present challenges, however, such as the knowledge gap between brand impact and sales impact.”
Concerns about the number of gambling companies sponsoring top football clubs is growing as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson has vowed to explore how the sector promotes itself.
The BBC has found that nine of the 20 top flight teams are currently backed by a company within the gambling sector. Financial services businesses (4), tech/electronics companies (1) and alcohol brands (1) lag far behind.
Watson, who says Labour will also propose banning people from using credit cards to pay for bets, would look to increase legislation around gambling if his party were to come into power.
“Even the industry are saying that TV advertising for in-sport betting is getting out of hand and needs dealing with.”
In addition to the nine Premier League clubs, 17 of the 24 teams in the Championship are sponsored by gambling companies, while the English Football League is backed by SkyBet.
Formula 1’s new owners Liberty Media have reversed a longstanding decision to ban betting firms from engaging in sponsorship within the sport.
The company has announced a five-year deal with marketing agency Interregional Sports Group (ISG) that will grant betting companies presence on trackside electronic billboards and on-screen graphics.
“There’s an understanding that sponsorship injects economics into the sport that improves the sport to the fan,” said Sean Bratches, managing director of F1’s commercial operations.
“You have to balance that with how you serve fans. This is an opportunity that serves both of those masters.”
The continued rise of women’s sport has been underlined by US Open winner Naomi Osaka signing a sponsorship deal with Adidas thought to be worth around $8.5 million.
The contract is the most lucrative in women’s tennis and, when coupled with the money she earned from her recent success, it makes her the second most well-paid female athlete in the world. Serena Williams, who she beat in the Open final, tops the list.
But the deal has an impact beyond earnings. As Anya Alvarez writes in The Guardian, support from brands is critical for enhancing the prominence of women’s sport.
“By making a long-term investment in Osaka, Adidas started a conversation about the value of female athletes, and the monetary return companies can get from their investment in women in sports,” Alvarez writes.
“After all, it makes economic sense. Currently, two out of five girls in the United States under the age of 18 participate in youth sports, an industry worth almost $15bn. Then there’s the fact that 59% of working women are sports fans.
“Undervaluing the influence of female athletes is short-sighted.”