sports sponsorships


A summary of the most exciting news in multicultural sports marketing. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

  • YouTubeYouTube and Major League Baseball have locked their first-ever exclusive live game distribution partnership that will see MLB games stream on YouTube and YouTubeTV during the second half of the 2019 MLB Regular Season. The deal includes exclusive distribution rights in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico, running on MLB’s official YouTube channel and via a forthcoming channel on YouTube TV.


  • According to Bloomberg, the Professional Fighters League raised $30 million from a group of investors. Series C funding will look to enhance its data and analytics as it expands its global audience and secures more fighters. The PFL opens its season May 9.


  • FOX Sports will serve as the new exclusive television home of the Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game Presented by Ephesus Sports Lighting. This year’s contest takes place on Sept. 17 at 8p. George Grande and Jim Kaat will call the game.

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  • Combate AmericasCombate Americas is coming back to Tucson on June 7. The fight will be carried live on television in Spanish in the U.S. on both Univision and UDN (12a) and in English in the U.S. and Canada on DAZ (10p). “Combate Americas: Tucson Unbreakable” will be headlined by the return of former world champion Jose “Pochito” Alday (12-4-1), who will square off with fellow Combat Americas veteran and prolific striker Irwin “The Beast” Rivera (7-4).


  • USA Basketball and Red Bull North America have signed a new partnership to build “an elite pathway for men’s and women’s players who have a goal of competing at the highest levels of 3×3 basketball.” As part of the deal, Red Bull will host more than 20 qualifying tournaments across the country under the newly-created Red Bull 3X series to identify the eight athletes who could potentially represent USA Basketball at the 2020 Olympics.


  • The MLB locked extended its multi-year rights agreements with UK broadcasters BT Sport through 2021, to show regular season and postseason games. Meanwhile the BBC has acquired the rights to stream the London Series across all its digital platforms.

What: Social media — particularly Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — has emerged as a key component in supporting sponsorship activations among a great majority of marketers, according to a new study by the ANA (Association of National Advertisers).
Why it matters: The study revealed that 85 percent of the marketers surveyed use social media to support sponsorships before, during, and after the sponsorship.Additionally, almost half (44 percent) employ a range of “advanced technologies” such as 360-degree photography, beacons, virtual reality, and RFID (radio-frequency identification) as support for their sponsorship activations.

The study, “Use of Social Media and Advanced Technologies for Sponsorship,” indicated that the primary reasons marketers use either social media or advanced technologies to support a brand’s sponsorship activations were the same:

  • Generate awareness
  • Connect with customers during the event
  • Improve brand perception

“Sponsorships are becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix, and with good reason,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice. “Giving those activities a boost via the aggressive use of social media and other new technologies makes sense because of the ROI it provides.”

Sponsorships are becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix, and with good reason.

Sponsorship spending in North America is projected to be $23 billion in 2017, according to ESP/IEG, a consultancy that tracks sponsorship spending and trends. Sports events dominate the list of all sponsorship spending, accounting for about 70 percent, followed by entertainment at 10 percent.

Preferred social media platforms used to activate sponsorship included:

  • Facebook (92 percent)
  • Twitter (87 percent)
  • Instagram (70 percent)
  • YouTube (47 percent)
  • LinkedIn (41 percent)
  • Facebook Live (27 percent)
  • Snapchat (27 percent)
  • Pinterest (13 percent)

The study noted that internal resources are most often used for the management of social media and/or advanced technologies to support a brand’s sponsorship activations; external agency resources are also used (e.g., digital/social agency and sponsorship agency), but to a lesser extent.

In addition, the amount of social media exposure generated was the top choice, by a wide margin, for measuring the effectiveness of a brand’s social media sponsorship activity. For advanced technologies, on-site activity tracked at the sponsorship event and the amount of social media exposure generated were the two top choices for measuring effectiveness.


The survey was conducted in June 2017. In total, 119 ANA corporate members participated. Of those, 55 percent were characterized as “senior marketers” (director level and above) while 45 percent were “junior marketers” (manager level and below). Forty-nine percent of respondents had 15 years or more experience in marketing/advertising. Seventy-seven percent work at organizations with an annual U.S. media budget of less than $100 million; the other 23 percent work at organizations with an annual U.S. media budget of $100 million or more. Those organizations are primarily B-to-C (38 percent) with some B-to-B (20 percent), and B-to-C/B-to-B for the remainder.

For purposes of the survey, the term sponsorship was defined as “a cash and/or in-kind fee paid to a property (typically sports, entertainment, non-profit event, or organization) in return for access to the exploitable commercial potential associated with that property.” A property was defined as “a unique, commercially exploitable entity, typically in sports, arts, events, entertainment, or causes.”

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