While world sports recovered from an almost standstill year in 2020, live events were still widely affected in 2021. Cancelled events due to illness and bans on crowds attending matches and games meant that those sponsoring teams and events had less eyes on their brands. With 80% of the world’s population claiming to support sports in some capacity, that was an enormous blow to a lot of brands.
In 2022, while we can still expect some cancelations due to Covid outbreaks among teams and staff, the general feeling is that all will return to normal. Sponsors can breathe a sigh of relief as crowds continue to file back into stadiums and large events get the green light to continue. But what other trends can sponsors expect to come about in 2022?
We’ll take a look at some of the sports marketing and sponsorship trends that are coming down the line.
Sports Entertainment is not a new concept but the “event” feeling that is normally asigned to key occasions such as the superbowl, Olympics and World Cup. With Sports TV networks trying to recoup losses from 2020 and 2021, every game and match has the potential of becoming an event. The likes of Sky Sports and ESPN are known for hyperbole when it comes to certain fixtures, however, we can expect this to be extended even further in a bid to keep viewers watching for as long as possible.
Longer, documentary style pre-game analysis and lengthier post-game discusses give sponsors the opportunity to grab some more airtime. From interview backdrops, sponsored segments and sponsorship of match tickers, there are a lot of opportunities for further exposure.
Sports broadcasters are keen to catch fans on whatever channel possible. The want to catch longhaul drivers with radio broadcasts, people at home and in bars with TV broadcasts, people on the go with streaming apps and hardcore sports fans with podcasts discussing the week’s most interesting occurences in sport.
Opportunities to sponsor podcasts are particularly on the increase in 2022 with both huge broadcasters and independent commentators releasing spin-off and niche podcasts all the time.
Ever since USA’s most recent win of the Women’s World Cup more people are showing an interest in women’s soccer and it is increasingly being seen as on a par with its male equivelent. In the last two years the English Football Association and the Irish Football Association have pledged to pay women the same international bonuses as men in an acknowledgement of their achievements and equal status as athletes. In 2021 viewership of the National Women’s Soccer League in the US increased by 216%.
Meanwhile, in Rugby, industry experts believe that the exponential growth of Women’s Rugby means that it would simply be remiss of sports sponsors if they did not put more investment into women’s teams.
Non-Fungible Tokens are a big deal at the moment, and it’s only a matter of time before sports teams and players begin to move in on the territory. For those not yet in the know, an NFT is a non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain (a sort of digital ledger).
The popularity of NFTs has only increased in recent months and no doubt will throughout 2022. We can expect to see opportunities for sports sponsors in the form of exclusive digital sports kits, racing cars and baseball-card style images.
Wearable tech is ubiquitous at this point, with more variations coming on the market all the time. Partnerships between athletes and brands that produce wearable tech simple makes sense.
Likewise, there are plenty of oppotunities for health brands to combine forces with the biggest sports teams in the world. From sponsorship of physio kit bags to water sponsorships, everthing can be considered advertising space as sports brands attempt to make up for losses incurred in the last two years.
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