The professional sports industry will see the continuation and evolution of opposing forces following a year in which disruption, a sometimes-overused term is finally living up to its billing. The rise of novelty formats, the shifting goalposts of commercial partnerships, and the emergence of deeper immersion within virtual and augmented reality environments for fans will permeate throughout the industry in 2023.
Cities are increasingly leveraging sports to demonstrate socioeconomic power on the world stage. Yet becoming a global powerhouse for professional sports is easier said than done. It requires an all-encompassing approach which considers structural, cultural and socioeconomic aspects such as ample investment in infrastructure, a robust domestic sports environment and a sizeable population.
Measuring the impact of any major sports event brings with it a series of challenges. However, the uniqueness of the 2022 World Cup Qatar adds new layers of complexity to assessing the commercial performance of the tournament.
The top four sports leagues in the US have been cemented for decades; with the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL dominating public awareness and brand sponsorship. The strength of these leagues seemingly left little room for challengers; yet, year on year, Euromonitor’s League Index indicates an ever-growing threat to this established hegemony, in the shape of MLS.
The recently launched Euromonitor 2022 Global League and Club Indices highlight the continued hegemony of the US at the league level and European football at the club level. The National Football League (NFL) has maintained its number one position, being trailed by both the UK’s Premier League and other US based major leagues. The top 10 club list globally on the other hand is dominated by the giants of European football, with Manchester United scoring highest overall in the index.
At this year’s Stadium Business Summit at the Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, UK, stakeholders from across the sports and entertainment space came together to discuss the strategies that are driving the return of fans to venues across the world. Euromonitor presented on the evolution of physical space and how this impacts the fan experience. This is a topic that is front of mind for operators, which are in the process of better understanding how fans and consumers have changed over the last three years, and how these insights can grow existing and create supplementary revenue streams, all the while driving fan engagement.
Through the lens of the Champions League final, we summarise some of the key questions that have emerged during this football season. From where to find future sponsors, how to leverage digital footprint for wider reach and secure deeper relationships with global audiences, to how the women’s game is evolving as the sports industry recovers from the global pandemic.
How can sports sponsorship strategies work in conjunction with corporate social responsibility goals?