The Keys to Sports Sponsorships in 2021

BY Rachel Cagle
Featured image for “The Keys to Sports Sponsorships in 2021”

America mourned the loss of regular sports seasons last year. Fortunately for sports fans, the standard seasons of most sports won’t be as affected by COVID-​19 this year. The pandemic is still limiting in-​person interactions both at sporting events and in everyday life. So, there’s a good chance that more people will be watching the games in their homes than before. This is not only an opportunity for TV and digital advertisers, but businesses who invest in sports sponsorships, as well.

COVID’s Impact on Esports

When you think of events to plan sports sponsorships strategies around, your mind probably goes to the traditional options. However, major and minor league baseball, basketball, hockey, etc., aren’t the only sports consumers are interested in. Last year’s lack of traditional sporting events sparked an increased interest in esports. According to a report by Nielsen, 16% of consumers around the world were watching competitive esports events last year. As a result, sports sponsorship revenue for esports is expected to grow to $842 million by 2025. 

Esports are an effective way to connect with new and younger audiences while being well-​placed to solve one of the major challenges of the pandemic with in-​person events cancelled,” says Nielsen. “This makes esports seven more attractive to brands looking for robust sponsorship platforms and to rights holders in traditional sports looking to unlock brand marketing spend.”

Sports Sponsorships During COVID

Nielsen points out that the return to standard-​sized crowds at sporting events will take time. The vaccine rollout is proving to be a slow process. And venues will still need to decide how many fans to let in while meeting standard sanitation protocols. In the meantime, “Several of the innovations introduced into broadcasts when the pandemic rendered stadiums empty will remain, with further investment in new broadcast technologies anticipated to be up 67% (Source: IABM),” says Nielsen. “According to Nielsen Fan Insights, over half of fans say they are more likely to consider brands that are actively enhancing the way live sport is viewed.”

Virtual Experiences

This means that sports sponsorships now go beyond signage throughout the event venues and tarps branding over empty seats. Sports fans miss the atmosphere of being involved in the game. The unique experience of being at a game is part of what fans miss the most. So, they are much more aware and appreciative of companies that are helping give them unique experiences from their homes. A good example of this is Microsoft’s LED Courtside Fan Board, which shows video footage of fans watching the game. Another is the cardboard cutouts of fans that are placed in seats throughout the venue.

With virtual events continually being developed and refined, there will be an increase of fan touchpoints and thus an increase in the complexity of the fan journey,” says Nielsen. “Engagement and participation of fans in these new hybrid experiences will become dominant sponsorship metrics. The quality of fan interactions as well as eyeballs will become even more important with the objective of identifying the most valuable stages of the fan journey and enabling tangible outcomes for sponsors.” If your client can be a part of making these experiences happen for fans, they’ll earn some new customers.

Which Sports to Sponsor

Of course, your clients will want to choose sports sponsorships for events that their target customers are actively watching. To figure out which types of sporting events their target audience enjoys watching the most, check out their audience profiles on AudienceSCAN on AdMall by SalesFuel.