Sports Sponsorships Growing for Major Leagues

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Is sports sponsorship marketing back? Recent research by IEG shows that the improved fiscal health of the financial services and automotive industries means that marketing dollars are again flowing into sports sponsorships. The  4 largest major sports leagues anticipate ending 2010 with a total sponsorship funding of $2.28 billion. According to IEG, this marks a 7.6% increase over last year.

Here’s how the sponsorship funding will be allocated for the year:

  • National Football League (NFL) $870 million
  • National Basketball Association (NBA) $536 million
  • National Hockey League (NHL) $327 million
  • Major League Baseball (MLB) $548 million

The NHL experienced a particularly strong increase in sports sponsorships this year. Deals have been announced with Anheuser-Busch InBev, Honda Motor Co, Geico and Cisco Systems Inc. Earlier this month, Discover became the NHL’s official credit card. NHL COO John Collins said, “by creating a deeper lineup of programming, we have been able to engage more people across more platforms and deliver impressive results to our advertisers.” The NHL is looking to add sponsors in the men’s grooming and airline categories as well.

At the same time, Major League Soccer (MLS) officials are looking to build their fan base with the newly launched online fantasy soccer game, Pro Soccer Picks. Officials expect this game and the new games they plan to launch next year will be easier to play than previous versions and will lure players with prize money.  The MLS is probably also looking for sponsors to sign over marketing dollars in exchange for the attention of fans.

All of these trends are positive signs that marketing dollars are once again flowing into sports leagues which experienced sponsorship losses during the recession.

[Sources: Cutler, Matt. Big Four US sports enjoy sponsorship hike. SportsBusiness​.com. 19 Nov. 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. NHL Reports Single-day High Visits. GantDaily​.com. 27 Apr. 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2010; Klayman, Ben. NHL signs U.S. Sponsorship deal with discover. Reuters​.com. 8 Nov. 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2010]
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.