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Sports should leverage AR for improved fan engagement

Augmented Reality (AR) can help sports companies tackle current challenges by creating more engaging and insightful viewing experiences, while the overall AR market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21% from $22 billion in 2022 to $100 billion in 2030.

GlobalData’s latest Thematic Intelligence report, “Augmented Reality in Sport,” reveals how fan experiences offer the most lucrative and accessible opportunities for AR integration.

Jordan Strzelecki, Associate Thematic Intelligence Analyst at GlobalData, said: “AR graphics in broadcasting create a more engaging and insightful analysis of events. AR on mobile devices is a novel marketing introduction that can increase fan engagement. As media competition intensifies for sports rights with the rise of over-the-top (OTT) platforms, broadcasters must invest in more sophisticated technology to attract or keep contracts and engage with fans. For example, Sky Sports launched a new mixed-reality studio in August 2023 for Premier League Monday Night Football and US Tennis Open coverage, enriching viewing experiences with advanced AR graphics.”

Broadcasters are increasingly providing AR-enhanced alternative broadcasts of sports events to tailor coverage to specific audiences. Stadium-based AR mobile experiences are also available, aiming to enhance live viewing.

Strzelecki continued: “New and innovative AR use cases are regularly being announced. In October 2023, AT&T and Gallaudet University debuted the first 5G AR helmet for deaf American football players. The proliferation of 5G will lead to widespread and more advanced AR adoption among major sports entities.”

Strzelecki concluded: “However, smaller sports federations and clubs will miss out on large-scale technological investment and partnerships. Brands will focus financial resources on teams and leagues with large fan bases and footprints, as they allow them to reach the most people. While brands may still partner with less successful organizations, most sponsorship spend will be directed towards larger properties.”

Photo by Sandro Schuh on Unsplash

UEFA Champions League still one of sport’s biggest sponsorship draws

Sponsorship plays a crucial role in supporting the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in maintaining its ambition of hosting the best professional soccer tournaments in the world, including the Champions League, Europa League, and Europa Conference League.

It contributes to the smooth operation of each competition, as exemplified by its top associations with Heineken, Turkish Airlines, and PlayStation. UEFA is estimated to generate $606.33 million through central sponsorship deals for the Champions League for the 2023-24 season, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s latest report, “The Business of UEFA Club Competitions 2023-24,” reveals that in 2023, the UEFA Champions League had 12 teams, which generated more than $60 million in annual sponsorship revenue. Barcelona and Real Madrid are expected to generate a significant amount in the 2023-24 season, with approximately $169 million and $143 million, respectively, adding to their esteemed reputation in the sport and immense popularity globally.

Joe Pacinella, Sport Analyst at GlobalData, commented: “The UEFA Champions League clubs are known to be some of the most valuable soccer properties on the planet, as seen with Barcelona and Real Madrid. Manchester United’s $96 million-a-year sponsorship revenue is also very impressive and illustrates its commercial pull, along with that of Paris Saint-Germain, which collects $87 million annually, slightly more than Manchester City’s just over $83 million-a-year.”

UEFA’s deals with Heineken, PlayStation, and Turkish Airlines offer a huge source of revenue for the federation and provide diversity within UEFA’s sponsorship portfolio, further enhancing their global exposure and cementing their pristine status.

Heineken is the biggest spender on the Champions League roster and promotes the competition worldwide through exclusive rights surrounding the deal. The Dutch brand has been partnered with UEFA since 1994, continuously engaging with soccer fans around the world and using the Champions League as the focus of their marketing campaigns, in a deal worth $65 million annually, as per GlobalData. The brand sponsors all three UEFA club competitions, including the Champions League, Europa League, and the Conference League.

Pacinella added: “Heineken has focused on UEFA’s three club competitions for a number of years, making it the center of their sports sponsorship portfolio. The brand aims to assert itself as a market leader for soccer in the beer scene, being UEFA’s top sponsor.”

Hankook Tire primarily focuses on the Europa League and Conference League, giving both competitions worldwide exposure. The automotive brand stands as both competitions’ top sponsor, ranking as the most lucrative deal that is not affiliated with the Champions League. The Korean brand has been promoting the competitions across Asia and engaging with fans across the globe, offering matchday experiences and online social media content. Hankook Tire’s deal with UEFA is worth $17.5 million annually on a one-year deal.

Pacinella concluded: “The Europa League is Europe’s second-tier competition but still ranks as the second most popular soccer club competition in the world after the Champions League, emphasising the power of European soccer relative to other continents. Despite the huge appeal and success of UEFA’s club competitions, the newly instated UEFA Conference League certainly lags behind the rest and has less social media followers than the Copa Libertadores, CAF Champions League, and the AFC Champions League, but given time to grow, it will no doubt surpass these competitions.”

Photo by Mario Klassen on Unsplash

NBA on course to generate sponsorship worth $1bn in 2023

Sponsorship remains key in supporting the National Basketball Association (NBA) in maintaining its global status as the most popular professional sports leagues in the world.

For the 2023 season, the basketball league generated more than $1 billion in sponsorship review, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s latest report, “NBA Finals 2023 – Post Event Analysis” reveals that in 2023, the NBA’s enormous sponsorship revenue is topped by its deal with Take-Two Solutions, worth $157.14 million annually. In return, the video game developer, Take-Two Solutions, has partnered with the basketball league to create the NBA 2K video game series, the most popular basketball video game on the planet, which was sold 10 million copies in 2018.

Joe Pacinella, Sport Analyst at GlobalData, said: “The NBA’s deals with 2K Sports, Nike and PepsiCo offer a huge source of revenue for the league and resonate with fans, as many NBA fans play the 2K video game, wear a lot of Nike apparel and drink some of PepsiCo’s beverages during matches in stadiums. These are the top three deals with the NBA, all worth over $100 million annually, a testament to the incredible popularity and exposure of the basketball league.”

Tissot, the luxury Swiss watch brand, serves as the official watch and timekeeper of the NBA, in a deal worth $60 million annually. The brand has spent $61.15 million annually in total over three deals with the NBA, ranking as the fourth highest spending brand on its roster and illustrating the value of partnering with the basketball league, which focuses heavily on marketing itself globally and expanding its reach.

Deals with Rakuten and Michelob Ultra also offer a huge source of revenue for the NBA, both worth $50 million annually, and will provide solid foundations for the NBA’s operations.

Pacinella added: “American Express (Amex) has a $40 million-a-year deal to sponsor the NBA and serve as the official credit card partner of the professional basketball league. The American banking brand provides exclusive game access to Amex members and has collaborated with the NBA to enhance fan experiences and increase engagement.”

Brand logos flooded the NBA Finals, with many noticed across the Ball Arena and the Kaseya Centre. The average attendance for this year’s NBA Finals stood at 19,687, with fans paying from $500 to $31,629 for certain games, evidencing the demand for the NBA Finals and how defining the level of exposure can be for the NBA’s partners.

Pacinella concluded: “Over 50% of the NBA’s 85 deals are worth over $5 million annually, highlighting the high price for brands to partner with the competition and demonstrating how worthwhile the exposure is. This is also proven by the TV audience numbers during the NBA Finals, with Game 5 of the Denver Nuggets’ triumph averaging 13.1 million viewers on ABC in the US, and the 2023 NBA Playoffs accumulating eight billion viewers across the NBA’s social platforms.”

Red Bull named 2016’s most sharable brand

Energy drink giant Red Bull has been declared last year’s most sharable brand, according to new figures by Unruly.

As part of Unruly’s annual round-up, the video ad tech company has compiled a list of the top ten video campaigns to be shared on social media throughout the year.

Red Bull failed to even reach the top ten most shared single ads of 2016, with that accolade being awarded to John Lewis’ Buster The Boxer Christmas Campaign.

Instead, the global drinks manufacturer was able to secure first place through a constant stream of released content as the company reportedly uploaded hundreds of videos over the course of the year.

The top three brands shared also included Samsung, followed by McDonald’s. From last year’s second place, Red Bull soared into first this year, beating Samsung’s shares by around 15 million.

“The winners hit the mark by creating highly emotional ads that resonated with viewers,” according to Unruly’s SVP Insights and Marketing, US, Devra Prywes, “we have a truly global list of top brands, many of which created videos specifically for and released in individual territories topping the list.”

Unruly held a ‘virtual award’ ceremony live on Twitter, announcing the winners for a number of categories, including Emotional Ad and Most Inspiring Video, all of which can be viewed here