The COVID-19 pandemic has changed sports sponsorship, accelerating trends already in play such as the growth of hybrid events, the growing importance of player advocacy and the popularity of esports, according to Nielsen Sports Global Sports Marketing Trends 2021 report.
The new Sponsorship Value Trends 2021 report has identified how these macro-trends will influence the commercial sports landscape in this year and beyond. In particular, the pandemic has changed the nature of partnerships and brand activations, and accelerated digital transformation in all sports.
Topping the report’s list are live and virtual sports experiences, which are increasingly merging. The health crisis which saw the stadiums empty of supporters forced events to change and broadcasters to innovate. As fans return to the live events, these virtual upgrades will be retained, with additional investments in broadcast innovations expected, Nielsen predicted.
According to Nielsen Fan Insights, 53% of fans say they’re more likely to consider brands that improve the way live sports are viewed in the home. This means that sporting event rights holders developing plans for a hybrid world of merged live and virtual experiences will thrive in this new era.
Goal-driven player approval
Another key trend that Nielsen anticipates will continue is the voice of athletes and brands representing communities of the future. Last year, athletes like Naomi Osaka, Lewis Hamilton and Marcus Rashford used their platforms to engage with social issues and influence decision-making at the highest level.
Nielsen Sports’ latest report showed ‘posts’ drive 63% more engagement for brands, with 95% of top athletes (with over five million social platform subscribers) generating 32 million million in IQ media value last year. This figure was up from US $ 17 million in 2019 and is expected to reach US $ 1.2 billion in 2023. This indicates a real incentive for brands and rights holders to move towards strategies focused on goals.
Brands increasingly favor socially conscious rights holders who align themselves and provide a platform for their values, such as sustainability. Over the next three to five years, Nielsen Sports also predicted that rights holders with a genuine sustainability agenda can expect an 11% increase in their sponsorship revenue.
The new esports market
At the same time, esports is becoming an increasingly important vehicle for sponsorship, according to Nielsen.
In 2020, many athletes and sports organizations have turned to virtual competitions to fill the void left by canceled events. This led 16% of respondents to increase their consumption of esports events. As an ideal channel for brands to engage with a younger audience, esports sponsorship revenue could reach $ 842 million by 2025.
The Nielsen Sports study also found that as consumers increasingly spend their time on digital channels to watch and discuss sport, the strategic and financial investments by rights holders against these channels are showing their first tangible results.
“Changes in the global economy have a direct impact on how sponsorships are planned and defined,” said Samantha Lamberti, Head of Consulting for Europe and the Middle East at Nielsen Sports.
“With the growing attention to leveraging sponsorship resources and integrating it effectively into a brand’s marketing mix, metrics such as sales impact will become more important and widely used in measurement frameworks. sponsorship. ”
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