SponsorUnited released its 2022-23 NIL Marketing Partnerships Report, analyzing over 2,000 deals in more than 1,000 brands. A NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) deal refers to an agreement allowing college athletes to monetize their personal brand by endorsing products or services using their name, image, or likeness.
Name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals grew 146% overall in 2022-23–having exploded since the NCAA’s landmark legislation in July 2021, allowing college student-athletes to be compensated for endorsing products and services–and they’re just getting started.
“We are witnessing a remarkable period of growth in the NIL landscape, as college athletes seize new opportunities to capitalize on their personal brands,” said Bob Lynch, Founder and CEO at SponsorUnited. “This upward trajectory reflects not only the shifting dynamics in collegiate sports, but also the eagerness of brands to engage with talented young athletes, who are emerging as influential marketing partners.”
Key findings from the report include:
College Football Reigns Supreme in NIL Deals: College football players remain at the forefront of the NIL revolution, accounting for 60% of all new deals in 2022. Their remarkable 174% growth in NIL sponsorships has outpaced that of the overall industry by 28%, demonstrating the significant impact of NIL on their earning potential and value of their personal brands.
NIL Deals Skyrocket in Women’s Basketball: NIL deals for women’s college basketball athletes grew 186% in 2022 – clocking in with the second highest percentage of new deals behind football, fueled in part by surging viewership (+11% YoY on ESPN) – compared to a 67% increase in deals for men’s basketball athletes. The average female basketball player partners with three brands, versus two for men.
Apparel & Accessories Tops the Category List Again: The top ten categories across NIL athletes–led by Apparel & Accessories–accounted for more than 70% of total sponsorships in both 2021 and 2022 – highlighting the competitive landscape of NIL deals. Quick Serve Restaurants (QSR): Hotel & Restaurant, Leisure; and Business Services are opting for more NIL deals than partnerships with major pro athletes – underscoring their confidence in the brand-building power of collegiate athlete influencers.
Twitter Loses Brands to Instagram and TikTok: Instagram’s and TikTok’s burgeoning popularity with Gen Y and Z is luring brand marketers away from Twitter. Instagram cemented its status as the top social media platform for endorsement posts – 55% of total activity, a 9% increase over 2021 – while Twitter’s turbulent 2022 saw branded posts fall 7% YoY. Though trailing Instagram by a large margin, TikTok grew its share of branded posts by 25% to 12.5%, and continues to emerge as a marketing powerhouse for brands.