Sponsor Insights

MLS Report 2022

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Brands Spend a Record $461M in Sponsorships Across Major League Soccer Clubs in 2022.
Technology and Utilities categories topped the sponsorship growth chart, accounting for 15% of new brand sponsors.

The MLS 2022 Marketing Partnerships Report analyzes 1,750 partnership deals across the league, clubs and athletes during the 2022 season. The report uncovered that $461 million in club sponsorship revenue was generated across 1,300 unique brands. The beverage-alcohol category and media brands topped the charts with the most active brands.

Key findings from the report include:

Sporting KC, Philadelphia Union and Austin FC attract nearly 100 brand deals each
All three clubs exceeded 90 sponsorship deals for the 2022 season, eclipsing the league average of 62. Sporting KC leads in terms of deal volume, with new partners including Don Neron Tequila, Socios.com, Google Fiber, and Compass Minerals, its new front jersey partner. Austin FC quickly surpassed all other MLS clubs in terms of sponsorship category diversity in just its second season.

U.S. World Cup player DeAndre Yedlin of Inter Miami CF leads with the most new brand collaborations this year
Returning to the MLS this year after a 7-year hiatus, DeAndre Yedlin has inked five brand endorsements this season. Yedlin partnered with three league sponsors–Heineken, Audi, and DoorDash–in addition to Quaker State and Captain Morgan. LAFC player Giorgio Chiellini took the lead in endorsements with 18, and the number of branded social posts with 28.

Cryptocurrency and FinTech propelled Finance to the top of 2022’s list of most searched categories
Crypto sponsorship deals within MLS quintupled to five from just one last year. Cryptocurrency was the most searched financial category within the SponsorUnited platform as more than 250 cryptocurrency brands worldwide were searched, with Coinbase, Crypto.com, and eToro leading the way. 

International and domestic brands ramp up activations with MLS
For the 2022 season, MLS gained six new league partners: Avant, IHG, Socios.com, Sorare, Doordash and Caterpillar. Brands like the Japanese beverage company Asahi tapped into the North America market for the first time through MLS, in addition international brands including Volkswagen, Bermuda Tourism Authority, and Inter&Co. The five most active brands among the league and individual athletes include Heineken (785 social posts), Audi (658 posts), BodyArmour (618 posts), Bank of Montreal (403 posts) and Delta (390 posts).

“MLS continues to impress with its increasing popularity, game attendance, and sponsorships, propelling the league to be the fastest growing in the world,” said Bob Lynch, Founder and CEO of SponsorUnited. “It’s clear to see how MLS franchise median value grew 5x more than other U.S. pro leagues through new investments made from companies like DoorDash, as well as continued support from brands like Adidas, who has been a league partner for the past 26 years. It’s an exciting time for MLS and I’m looking forward to seeing the continued momentum.”

Methodology:
This report was compiled using SponsorUnited’s proprietary platform data from January 15, 2022, through November 8, 2022. Social data compiled from property or person-controlled Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn accounts and social activity.

MLB 2022 Marketing Partnerships Report

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Global Icon and MLB Star Shohei Ohtani Sets New Record for Brand Endorsements
Major League Baseball sponsorships increase 8% year-over-year

The MLB 2022 Marketing Partnerships Report analyzes brand partnerships across the league, teams, and individual players during the 2022 season. The report found that MLB secured 3,350 sponsorships this year (an 8% increase YoY) and its teams averaged 108 sponsorships each–more than the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLS.

“MLB and its teams have continued to lean heavily into initiatives that provide brands with innovative ways to expand consumer reach,” said Bob Lynch, founder and CEO of SponsorUnited. “The new streaming rights deal with Apple, virtual signage, teams further digitizing stadium signage, and jersey patches are just a few of many examples of how they’re bringing baseball brand partnerships into the future.”

The report also found: 

Shohei Ohtani “Shotime” is the most marketable MLB player in recent history
The Los Angeles Angels hitter/pitcher phenomenon totaled 17 brand endorsements in 2022, breaking Aaron Judge’s record of 13 endorsements in 2021. Shotime tripled his endorsement revenue after becoming the first player to appear on the covers of GQ, Time, Sports Illustrated, and MLB The Show in a six-month span. The reigning AL MVP also attracted 22 Japanese brands to Angel Stadium, the most of any MLB ballpark.

The Cincinnati Reds lead the league in sponsorships for the third consecutive year
With 200 brand deals this year, the Cincinnati Reds continues to be the most sponsored MLB team for the third year in a row. The team’s largest sponsors include Kroger, PNC Bank, altafiber and TriHealth. The New York Yankees take the #2 spot with approximately 170 deals–climbing from #4 in 2021–while the Boston Red Sox land at #3 with more than 150 sponsorships.  

StubHub and New Era are the leading sponsors of the official league
As long-time official league partners, StubHub and New Era have representation at stadiums for each of the 30 MLB teams. The top non-league partners, with more than 10 deals across various teams, include State Farm, Coca-Cola, Progressive, Chick-fil-A and Toyota.

Digital advertising takes center stage on outfield walls while static signage dips
From 2021 to 2022 YoY, MLB saw an increase in demand for digital signage within baseball parks. Home run territory became a hot commodity for advertisers seeking clearer, more creative messaging through LED technology. The number of brands “going digital” grew by 36%–led by the Food and Alcohol categories–while static signage decreased 23%. Digital ads in the mid-upper outfield grew by 53%, followed by ads on the video board at 14%. 

MLB ramps up brand deals with CBD companies
Following MLB’s announcement in June allowing teams to seek CBD sponsorships, CBD inquiries increased 9x versus the month before (May 2022). According to SponsorUnited, more than 150 CBD brands were searched within the platform, cbdMD being the top search (with 13 current sponsorships). 

Ballon D’or SPRED Report 2022

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Congratulations to Karim Benzema and Alexia Putellas, the winners of this year’s Ballon d’Or (“Golden Ball”) Award, presented in Paris on October 17th. Nominees for the annual award recognizing the best player over the previous year–presented by French news magazine French Football since 1956–included 30 men’s and 20 women’s football players from around the world.

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema–nicknamed “Karim the Dream”–was the favorite after winning the UEFA Nations League with France, the LaLiga title, the Spain Supercup, and the Champions League with Real Madrid, as well as the 2021/2022 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year. With 120M total followers, Benzema was the second most-followed Ballon d’Or nominee this year on social media. His partnerships with 6 brands–including adidas, Jean Paul Gaultier, Technogym, and Crypto.com–have generated 16M engagements and counting.

Alexia Putellas won the women’s Ballon d’Or Award for the second consecutive year, becoming the first female player to win the title twice. Her elite run has boosted her social following a whopping 330% year-over-year to 3M across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. The FC Barcelona midfielder takes the 5th spot among both male and female Ballon d’Or nominees in terms of brand partnerships, garnering more than 2.4M engagements across 18 branded posts.

With a staggering following of more than 740M, nominee Cristiano Ronaldo is the most popular person in the world on social media. He also leads the nominees in brand partnerships with 17, including LiveScore, Nike, Clear (Unilever), and CR7, his own underwear brand. With 18 nominations during his career–the most of any player–the Portuguese megastar has won 5 Ballon d’Or trophies, a feat surpassed only by Lionel Messi with 7 awards.

Alex Morgan tops the list of female players on social media with an audience of more than 20M–ranking her 15th among all Ballon d’Or nominees by total followers. With 27 deals, the San Diego Wave striker also partners with more brands than any other female athlete. Morgan’s most engaging branded post–on Instagram with Beat Everybody, the clothing brand she cofounded with fellow US Women’s National Soccer Team players Allie Long and Kelley O’Hara–has racked up 293K engagements since January.

Women In Sports 2022

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Alex Morgan is the Most Endorsed Female Athlete of 2022 

Brand deals across women’s sports have increased 20% year-over-year

SponsorUnited’s inaugural Women In Sports 2022 report analyzes brand partnerships for both collegiate and professional sports across teams and individual athletes. 

The report found that 3,500 brands bought a total of 5,650 sponsorships or media across 14 professional women’s leagues and collegiate NIL athletes. It also revealed that 1,110 brands bought a total of 2,185 sponsorships or media across individual professional and college female athletes. 

“While women’s sports have always faced a variety of disparities in the industry, their ability to win over audiences and drive an exceptionally high level of engagement for brands is undeniable,” said Bob Lynch, CEO and founder of SponsorUnited. “In recent years, attendance, viewership and social engagement for women’s sports and athletes has spiked, leading to long-overdue financial backing through investments and sponsorships that are visibly paying off and should only continue to accelerate.”

Key findings include: 

Alex Morgan is the most endorsed female athlete of the year
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) player scored 27 brand deals in 2022, which is more deals than any NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS or NHL athlete. Morgan leapfrogged over Ali Krieger, Serena Williams and Naomi Oasaka, the top three most endorsed female athletes in 2021. She has partnerships with Coca-Cola, Google, Chipotle, Michelob Ultra and AT&T, among others. 

Partnership deals across women’s sports have increased 20% year-over-year
Sponsorships with women grew 20% year-over-year across the major US sports (LPGA, NWSL, WNBA, WTA), top European soccer leagues (Women’s Super League and Liga F), and  Big Bash League, AFL, NRL Telstra Premiership, Netball Superleague, Suncorp Super Netball and World Netball. Finance brands–which are already the most active sponsorship category among women’s sports–upped their sponsorship game by 30%, followed by Apparel & Accessories and Media to round out the top-three brand verticals.

Women’s golf outnumbers all other women’s sports for brand deals
With 940 brand deals in 2022, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) saw a 30% increase in deals from the previous year and an 18% increase in new brand partnerships. Notable partnerships include Coca-Cola, Rolex and Epson. The LPGA held a 17-deal lead over the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), which had 923 deals in 2022, followed by the National Women’s Soccer League, which had 496 deals. 

Nike is the #1 sponsor for both professional and collegiate sports
Nike has sponsorships with the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), NWSL, Women’s Big Bash League (Cricket), Netball and the LPGA, and with more than 60 athletes. Nike also sponsors five collegiate athletes and partners with 68 colleges. Trailing Nike is Adidas, the second top brand partner for both professional and collegiate sports. 

Music Artist Report

SponsorUnited Unveils Inaugural Music Artist Report

DOWNLOAD REPORT: https://sponsorunited.com/music-artist-report-2022/

Social media drives new and innovative partnerships in an industry forecast to more than double in value to over $53 billion by 2030.
 

Just released, the first Music Artist Marketing Partnerships Report. This inaugural report delivers an in-depth analysis of over 2,100 brands and 1,100 deals from July 2021-July 2022, the report unlocks 10 major music genres and tells the stories of nearly 600 artists. 

Key findings include:

  • Bon Iver, Steve Aoki, Saweetie, Snoop Dogg and J. Balvin top the ranks for most brand partnerships by music artists.
    Among these top 5, Organizations & Groups dominated the category list with a third of all deals–2x more than Technology and 3x more than Apparel.
  • T-Mobile is one of the few brands hitting all the right notes.
    The only company on the SU platform with sponsorships across six different music genres, the wireless giant was most active in Country, with deals including Dolly Parton, Chris Young, Old Dominion and more.
  • Social media engagement emerges as a driving force for attracting brand partnerships.
    Pop music artists generated the highest average engagement and partnered with the most brands, followed by Rap/Hip-Hop in second place and Country in third.
  • Country artists surged as the most popular searched by sponsorship executives.
    Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood and Luke Combs were the top 3 most searched artists on the SponsorUnited platform.
  • Music artists gained over 3.2B new followers.
    1.5B followers on Instagram, nearly 1B on TikTok, more than 682M on Facebook, and just 122M on Twitter.
  • Latin artists saw massive social growth from fans around the globe.
    Among the top 40 fastest growing social accounts, 12 were owned by Latin artists. Combined, the Latin genre gained 250M followers–2.5x more than Rap/Hip-Hop and 3.5x more than Country.

NHL Partnerships Report

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Finance companies boost NHL team sponsorship revenue past the $1B mark for the first time in league history

The NHL 2021-22 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report highlights trends in sponsorships surrounding the National Hockey League, teams, athletes, and media partners. Uncover data on over 3,300 NHL partnership deals and over 2,000 active brands buying sponsorships and media in the NHL.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Finance companies boost NHL team sponsorship revenue past the $1B mark for the first time in league history.
    This jump is a 63% increase from the $623 million in the 2020-21 season.
  • Cause-related sponsorship campaigns increased 23% year over year, with Finance brands overtaking Healthcare brands as the most active supporter of causes.
    On average, 10 brands activated against a cause (vs. 8 last season.)
  • The seven Canadian teams had a higher average social following compared to the 23 US teams.
    Brands received 2x the engagement with US teams.
  • The NHL league account posts more than any other pro sports league, in fact, 2x more than the NFL (second-most.)
    No team or player in the NHL has a larger social following than the league itself.
  • Banking and Beer brands were the top spenders as marquee brands continued to increase spend this season.
    Beer companies more than doubled their spend with NHL teams which moved the Beverage (Alcoholic) category past Healthcare to #2.

Methodology

This report was compiled using SponsorUnited’s proprietary platform data from September 2021 through June 2022.

*Social Data Compiled from Property or Person-Controlled Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn Social Accounts and Activity.

European Football 2021-22 Report

European Football Sponsorships

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The first international sponsorship and marketing report focused on European football.

The 2021-22 European Football Partnerships Report is fortified by data from over 7,000 brands across more than 9,000 deals and from 10 of the top European football leagues (Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1, along with each league’s corresponding second tier.) This report also contains growth and engagement insights on over 2,750 brands that created collaborative social media content.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Construction is the most active sponsorship category for the third consecutive season across European football leagues.
  • While Betting deals have declined by 10%, Crypto deals have grown an impressive 140% this season.
  • The most searched brands by European football club executives were Crypto.com, FTX, DraftKings, Verizon and Dunkin’.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi now officially have over 1B followers combined due in part to joining new clubs.
  • Transferring teams can offer a huge boost in social following for players.

This report was compiled using SponsorUnited’s proprietary platform data from July 2021 through May 2022. Social data compiled from property or person-controlled Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and LinkedIn accounts and social activity. The leagues included in this report are as follows: Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, EFL Championship, LaLiga 2, Serie B, 2. Bundesliga, Ligue 2.

NBA 2021-22 Report

SponsorUnited Releases NBA 2021-22 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report

NBA teams surpassed $1.2B in sponsorship revenues, achieving 50% growth over the 2020-21 season.

This week the NBA 2021-22 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report was released. The report is fortified by data from over 6,000 NBA sponsorship and media deals from the 2021-22 NBA season. It highlights the impact of team revenue in addition to a comprehensive dive into marketing and partnerships across the league, all 30 teams, players, categories, assets, and brands.

Key findings from the report include:

  • NBA teams surpassed $1.2B in sponsorship revenues, achieving 50% growth over the 2020-21 season.
    Nearing $450M in additional spending on team sponsorships.

  • Revenue was driven by a significant increase in spending across the Sports Betting and Financial categories, and the emergence of Cryptocurrency.
    Socios.com, which had no NBA deals in 2020-21, launched 28 individual deals this season.

  • NBA players continue to expand as a platform for brands, as they saw a 46% increase in deals from the prior year.
    Player endorsements now represent 30% of total NBA brand deals.

  • Five of the top six searched companies on the SponsorUnited platform by NBA executives were cryptocurrency brands (FTX, Crypto.com, Coinbase, Voyager, Ankr.)
    Cryptocurrency had a higher search volume than the entire alcohol category. In fact, not one alcohol brand ranked within the top most searched 50 brands.

  • Performance on the court had the most direct correlation with fan interest.
    Playoff-eligible teams increased their social following during the season at a 150% higher rate than teams that missed the playoffs.
  • Despite missing the playoffs in his 19th season, LeBron James’ social following saw a massive increase of 22M new followers, which is more than 25 individual NBA teams.
    In fact, he alone has more Instagram followers than every NBA team’s total social following across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.

“The NBA saw significant growth by capitalizing on a perfect storm of high-growth industries like Crypto and Tech aggressively entering the market with teams having highly visible platforms and innovative marketing solutions that allowed brands to tell their story in compelling ways” said SponsorUnited President & Founder, Bob Lynch.

For more key insights and access to the complete report, download the SponsorUnited NBA 2021-22 Marketing & Partnerships Annual Report at SponsorUnited.com.

Methodology

This report was compiled using SponsorUnited’s proprietary platform data from September 2021 through May 2022.

*Social Data Compiled from Property or Person-Controlled Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn Accounts and Social Activity.

NFL Draft Report

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There was a lot of buzz around the NFL Draft over the weekend and while the new draftees were the true winners,  brands came in a close second. SponsorUnited has released the 2022 NFL Draft Sponsorship Report where you can take a deeper dive into the partnership deals between brands, teams and players. 

Some of the key insights include: 

  • Tech and Apparel made up ⅓ of all deals among first round picks
  • Wide receivers caught the most deals, but EDGE players tackled the most brands
  • Rookies from Ohio State, Georgia and Oregon closed the most deals (40% of all deals)

Gain key insights around broadcast sponsorships, draft party sponsorships, player deals and more in SponsorUnited’s 2022 NFL Draft Report.

NFL SPRED Report 2021

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Today, SponsorUnited published the first SPRED Report centered around NFL player’s social performance and endorsement deals. 

Download the complete report HERE, for complete data and insights, some key findings include: 

  • adidas and Bose are the most active brands among NFL social media posts but Zenith Watches, Grip and Brady Brand attract the most attention.
  • Quarterbacks are most widely followed on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook while TikTok varies among other skilled positions.
  • J.J. Watt is the most followed defensive NFL player and the most followed NFL player to not win a SB.
  • The top 10 most followed NFL players combine for over 100M gross followers.
  • 12 NFL players average over 1M total engagements, all of them on the offensive side of the ball.
  • Although Travis Etienne Jr, has yet to see the field, he has the highest % average engaged followers.
  • Most Total Gross Followers: Odell Beckham Jr.
  • Most Twitter Followers: Russell Wilson
  • Most Facebook Followers: Tom Brady
  • Most Instagram Followers: Odell Beckham Jr.
  • Most TikTok Followers: Gronk
  • Most Engaging: Patrick Mahomes
  • Highest % of Engaged Followers: Travis Etienne
  • Most Engagement Per Post: Tyreek Hill
  • Most Branded Posts: Russell Wilson
  • Most Brands: Russell Wilson
  • Highest Avg Engagement: Zenith Watches, Grip Boost and Brady Brand
  • Most Branded Posts: adidas, Bose and Fashion Nova
  • Most Brand Engagements: Bose, adidas and Oakley
  • Most Player Endorsements: Bud Light, Verizon, Bose and Under Armour
  • Most Engaging Categories: Apparel/Accessories, Beverage (Non-Alc) and Leisure/Recreation
  • Most Category Engagements: Apparel/Accessories, Consumer Electronics and Retail
  • Most Player Endorsements: Apparel/Accessories, Retail and Beverage (Non-Alc)
  • Most Branded Posts: Apparel/Accessories, Retail and Beverage (Non-Alc)