Report: COVID-19 has forever changed sports marketing

The world has been disrupted by the pandemic and this is fundamentally altering the way brands make sponsorships and activate their partnerships with sportspeople

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered sports sponsorship, accelerating trends already in play such as the growth of hybrid events, rising importance of player advocacy and popularity of esports, according to the Nielsen Sports 2021 Global Sports Marketing Trends report.

The fresh report on the changing value of sponsorship in 2021 has identified how these macro trends will influence the commercial sporting landscape over the course of this year and beyond. In particular, the pandemic has changed the nature of partnerships and brand activations, and accelerated digital transformation across sports.

Top of the report's list is live and virtual sporting experiences, which are increasingly merging. The health crisis that saw stadiums empty of fans meant events had to change and broadcasters needed to innovate. As fans gradually return to live events, these virtual upgrades will be retained, with further investment into broadcast innovations expected, Nielsen predicted.

According to Nielsen Fan Insights, 53 per cent of fans say they are more likely to consider brands that enhance the way live sports are viewed at home. This means the sporting events rights holders developing plans for a hybrid world of merged live and virtual experiences will thrive in this new era.

Purpose-driven player endorsement

Another key trend Nielsen is anticipating will continue is the voice of athletes and brands standing for communities of the future. Last year, athletes including Naomi Osaka, Lewis Hamilton and Marcus Rashford used their platforms to engage with social issues and influence top-level decision making.

The latest Nielsen Sports report showed ‘advocacy posts’ drive 63 per cent more engagement for brands, with 95 per cent of top-tier athletes (with over five million followers on social platforms) generating US$32 million worth of QI media value last year. This was up from US$17 million in 2019 and is projected to reach US$1.2 billion in 2023. This points to a real incentive for brands and rights holders to move towards purpose-driven strategies.

Brands increasingly favour socially conscious rights holders that align and provide a platform for their values, such as sustainability. Over the next three to five years, Nielsen Sports also forecasted rights holders with an authentic sustainability agenda can expect up to an 11 per cent increase in their sponsorship revenues.

The new market in esports

At the same time, esports is becoming an increasingly important sponsorship vehicle, according to Nielsen.

In 2020, many athletes and sporting organisations looked to virtual competitions to fill the void left by cancelled events. This resulted in 16 per cent of people surveyed increasing their consumption of esports events. As an ideal channel for brands to engage with younger audiences, sponsorship revenues for esports could reach up to US$842 million by 2025.

The Nielsen Sports research also found that as consumers increasingly spend their time on digital channels to watch and discuss sport, the strategic and financial investments of rights holders against these channels are showing their first tangible results.

“Changes in the global economy are directly impacting the ways sponsorships are planned and defined,” said Nielsen Sports head of consulting, Europe and Middle East, Samantha Lamberti.

“With the increasing attention to sponsorship’s ‘value for money’ and its efficient integration into a brand’s marketing mix, metrics like sales impact will become more prominent and widely utilised in sponsorship measurement frameworks."

Make sure you don’t miss out on the wealth of insight and content provided by CMO A/NZ and sign up to our weekly CMO Digest newsletters and information services here.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

Extremely informative. One should definitely go through the blog in order to know different aspects of the Retail Business and retail Tec...

Sheetal Kamble

SAP retail chief: Why more retailers need to harness data differently

Read more

It's actually a nice and helpful piece of info. I am satisfied that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed ...

FIO Homes

How a brand facelift and content strategy turned real estate software, Rockend, around

Read more

I find this very strange. The Coles store i shop in still has Flouro lights? T though this would have been the 1st thing they would have ...

Brad

Coles launches new sustainability initiative

Read more

Well, the conversion can be increased by just using marketing, but in general if you are considering an example with Magento, then it is ...

Bob

How Remedy is using digital marketing and commerce to drive conversion

Read more

yo nice article

Bob

6 Ways to ramp up Social Media to Your Web Design

Read more

Blog Posts

9 lessons from 7 months of relentless failure

The most innovative organisations embrace failure. Why? Because it is often through failing the most creative out-of-box thinking happens. And with it comes vital learning opportunities that bring new knowledge and experience into teams.

Jacki James

Digital product lead, Starlight Children's Foundation

Why conflict can be good for your brand

Conflict is essentially a clash. When between two people, it’s just about always a clash of views or opinions. And when it comes to this type of conflict, more than the misaligned views themselves, what we typically hate the most is our physiological response.

Kathy Benson

Chief client officer, Ipsos

Brand storytelling lessons from Singapore’s iconic Fullerton hotel

In early 2020, I had the pleasure of staying at the newly opened Fullerton Hotel in Sydney. It was on this trip I first became aware of the Fullerton’s commitment to brand storytelling.

Gabrielle Dolan

Business storytelling leader

Sign in