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GLOBAL SPORTS MARKETING REPORT-2022: 36 Key Insights/Findings and Stats! - For Sports Properties, Media Owners and Brands!

The return of fans to live events in the middle of 2021 was welcomed by many in the sports sector, but life has changed too much during the pandemic for the sports industry to simply revert to its pre-COVID state. The pandemic's endurance, combined with societal transformations in an increasingly digitized world, highlights one constant on which the sports business must maintain its emphasis in order to secure its long-term viability and growth: the consumer.

As a result, fans have formed internet communities to communicate with one another, as well as their favorite athletes and teams. Fandom has evolved from enormous, physically gathered audiences to more remote, yet more engaged behavior. While ticket sales were down, fans discovered new ways to connect: chatting, sharing, betting, and co-watching during the last 2 years.

Here are the 36 Key Insights/Findings and Stats from Nielsen's 29 Page ‘GLOBAL SPORTS MARKETING REPORT 2022' that helps sports properties, media owners, and sponsoring brands to explore various revenue generating opportunities in a post-pandemic era, and also it's time to focus on the fan to ensure marketing sustainability and growth:

1. 40.7% of global fans now opting to stream live sports events through digital platforms.

2. The continued adoption of over-the-top (OTT) options among consumers has fueled a dramatic rise in the number of platforms for sports content.

3. The proliferation of content across platforms has also sparked increased consumption of additional sports content—both related to and not related to live matches. This presents an array of opportunity for both rights holders and brands alike, and it illuminates the growing importance of sports-related content, especially among younger generations.

4. Importantly, the demand for content related to a live event (match announcements, highlights, recap videos, etc.) is almost as high as it is for digitally delivered events themselves.

5. Across audiences, the general population has increased its multi-screen viewing activities (social media, texting, playing games, ordering food) by an average of 5% over the last year, with this percentage doubling to 10% among Gen Z.

6. 47% of the people who watch sports on TV or digital platforms simultaneously watch other live content, much higher than the general population (33%).

7. While much of the second-screen activity relates to social media engagement, especially as consumers seek new ways to be together, ordering food and online gaming have picked up steam throughout the pandemic, with Gen Z driving the greatest penetrations at 26.5% and 31%, respectively.

8. Engagement with video-based social media channels has also grown as fans are eager to play a role in content creation. TikTok and Twitch are gaining on the traditional platforms (YouTube, Facebook and Instagram), posting respective usage gains of 30% and 21% between April 2020 and August 2021. The increases continue to position these platforms as progressively strengthening outlets for both user-generated content and multi-screen interaction.

9. Globally, 71% of consumers either completely or somewhat trust ads and opinions from influencers about brands and products, which is notably higher than channels like online banners, mobile ads, search engine ads and SMS messages.

10. Only 9% of people strongly agree that the measures big brands are taking around pertinent issues are improving the connection between brands and fans.

11. According to Nielsen’s 2021 Trust in Advertising Study, 81% of global respondents either completely or somewhat trust brand sponsorships at sporting events.

12. Nielsen found that the sponsorships drove an average 10% lift in purchase intent among the exposed fanbase.

13. Given the widespread exposure that sports provide, the opportunities for crypto-related sponsorships are blossoming, and the number of inked deals dramatically increased between 2019 and 2021.

14. Blockchain companies investing in sports sponsorship is projected to reach $5 billion USD by 2026. From a success perspective, the future of crypto sponsorships will depend on two key factors: legitimacy and fan engagement.

15. 24% of sports fans also express an interest in NFTs (nonfungible tokens).

16. In fact, 26% of avid sports fans8 who look to social media for sports news say that athletes are a great way to connect with brands and sponsors.

17. Brands are shifting their strategies away from “bigger is better” and instead focusing on influencers with fewer followers that make more personal connections with followers and thus have a greater impact on driving behaviors such as trying a new product.

18. The uptick in sponsorships for women’s sports is adding to the aggregate brand investment across the sports industry.

19. Esports mergers were headline news in early 2022, marking its importance as one of the fastest growing segments of the global entertainment industry. Esports is another avenue where brands are reaping the benefits of aligning their spend with opportunities to engage new fanbases.

20. Diversification of gaming and esports fandom provides brands the opportunity to test new engagement approaches.

21. In many ways, the wide adoption and usage of OTT options among consumers is allowing rights holders to revise their business strategies. Instead of looking at sports programming as a mass reach opportunity, sports media rights are being acquired with different business objectives in mind. Amazon, for example, is trading the mass reach of traditional telecast availability for the ability to connect content with consumer spending, effectively altering the value proposition of its viewers.

22. While live sports on OTT platforms are expanding globally, linear TV in the U.S. is struggling to retain customers, with subscriptions down 18% since 2019. Live sports remains a key driver of engagement with linear TV programming. Most live sports content in the U.S. remains available across traditional broadcast and cable TV channels, which in turn, attracts significant investments from sponsors and advertisers.

23. From a fan perspective, short-form news, recap, highlights and Q&A content are highly sought out by Gen Z consumers.

24. From a growth perspective, long-form original series and interactive event content around gaming, contests and raffles will be critical in attracting younger consumers who are not yet engaged. Engaging this group with the right content has the potential to grow the global Gen Z fan base from 25.2% to 27% in the next 18 months.

25. 51% of people interested in watching sports are checking live stats while watching a sporting event.

26. Increasing connectivity and growth in digital platforms is creating an equally dramatic rise in fan-generated content, elevating the usage of social media platforms like TikTok and Twitch from platforms for sharing content to platforms for content creation.

27. 2.7x Growth in number of marketing rights populating teams/ clubs inventories, on average over the last 5 years.

28. Rights holders are also capitalizing on the increased interest in women’s sports.

Takeaways for sports properties and media owners:

29. Interactivity while consuming media will only continue to grow—from betting to fantasy sports—and produce new datasets crucial to fan strategy.

30. Every owner needs to identify its specific objectives and then leverage what it knows about its audiences and meet them where they are with initiatives that both engage consumers and drive business results.

31. Athletes are engaging directly with fans. Athletes often have more social media followers and more trust among fans. Teams and leagues should partner with athletes as amplifiers of content.

32. Predicting ROI and sales lift are necessary tools for sports rights holders to remain relevant and secure marketing budgets from brands.

Takeaways for sponsoring brands:

33. As brands seek ways to establish more personalized connections with consumers, they’re engaging social media influencers more heavily than in previous years. 71% of global consumers either completely or somewhat trust ads and opinions from influencers about brands and products.

34. Tap into broadening sponsorship opportunities. As traditional and digital worlds merge, the sponsorship lifecycle is broadening, creating additional and more well-rounded monetization opportunities. Leveraging new technology, brands should start to utilize digital platforms to develop fan engagement strategies that don’t exist in linear broadcasting. For example, brands can streamline the purchase journey by simply adding a link to a product or food item to the digital sports content that fans are already watching. This trackable digital engagement will be paramount in measuring sponsor effectiveness.

35. Expand traditional sponsorship measurement. To engage consumers where they are, sponsorship activation campaigns need to be increasingly multi-focused: multi-channel, multi-asset, multimarket.

36. Brands should also be thinking about comparability with their sponsorship measurement. That way they have a level playing field when they assess performance within the broader marketing mix of non-sponsorship opportunities.

All the best...

By the way, if you are interested to read the full report, you may access it here.

Just to mention, if you are serious about learning such insights and stats from various business and marketing domains, you can find them here in the most recent form.

P.S: If you think this blog post will benefit you or others in your network/community, please share it, so that those in need can benefit from your tiny efforts! Also, don’t forget to see other value-packed blog posts from this blog that might help you/your business.

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