Sponsorship collective logo

Sports Sponsorship: What to Expect in 2023 – 2024 

by | February 29, 2024

Why you can trust Sponsorship Collective

  • The Sponsorship Collective has worked with over 1000 clients from every property type all over North America and Europe, working with properties at the $50,000 level to multi-million dollar campaigns, events and multi-year naming rights deals
  • We have published over 300 YouTube videos, written over 500,000 words on the topic and published dozens of research reports covering every topic in the world of sponsorship
  • All of our coaches and consultants have real world experience in sponsorship sales

Before you dive in, if you are interested in sport sponsorship, check out these titles in our “sponsorship for sports” series:

The world continues to watch with a keen eye the future of sports sponsorship as major brands like Red Bull and Coca-Cola regularly sign multi-billion-dollar deals. 

From football (American football, mind you, but soccer too) to motorsports and everything in between, brands like insurance companies and crypto all want a slice of the sports sponsorship pie.

And why not? It’s certainly big enough. The compound annual growth rate of sports sponsorship between 2021 and 2030 is estimated to be a very healthy 7.4 percent

So, that got me thinking, what is next in the sports sponsorship world? What trends and changes are going to rock these partnerships down to their very core, in the best way possible?

Let’s take a look!

Fan Content Will Become Even More Important 

These days, we’re all influencers, capable of shooting images and videos in high-def with our smartphones and uploading them to social media in real time. Nowhere have these kinds of trends become bigger than at sports arenas.

Think beyond the standard kiss cam to team-branded Snapchat filters, live votes during intermission, and video reviews of unboxing athletic shoes or apparel. 

New call-to-action

The average sports fan wants their voice heard. They want to feel like a star, if only for a moment, for sharing their opinion. 

As a motorsport organization or sports team, you should begin thinking now of how you can leverage fan content into your assets and activations. The branded social media wall, although a bit overdone by now, is an example, but you can go even further with your next sponsor.

Perhaps you start a team-supported community forum or a viral social media trend or hashtag. The possibilities are endless, and in the sports sphere, larger than life.

Sustainability Is Key

I’m going to have an entire post dedicated to the importance of sustainability in sponsorship, because it’s become an increasingly rising trend. With such a large sector as sports sponsorship, of course sustainability is so major.  

Our climate continues to rapidly shift, and many of the unsavory consequences of that have become known, with more on the way, unfortunately. People have become more adamant about doing their parts to slow or possibly even reverse the world’s course.

When planning activations and services, don’t let the starry-eyed aspirations you have usurp the environmental value. Your audience could turn against you, and the sponsor also doesn’t look great, hurting your chances of working together again.

Perhaps you publicly commit to reducing greenhouse gases or carbon emissions through your sponsor partnership. You could also team with green initiatives to further put your money where your mouth is. 

Female Athletes Remain the Key to Connecting with Younger Audiences

Sports viewers are a diverse bunch ranging in age, with kids to adults into their mid-50s (although that viewership is mostly for baseball) tuning in. 

Understanding your audience and which of the above segments are most prevalent is critical in your efforts to work with a sponsor. That’s a tip that transcends industry. 

If your sponsors are interested in appealing to today’s Gen Z generation, born between 1997 and 2012 and currently 11 to 26 years old, the easiest and clearest path to doing so seems to be women’s sports.

The reason? Most women sports superstars have bigger presences on Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms Gen Z uses prevalently. They also post more, so even non-sports fans recognize these athletic icons. 

But the reason these women’s voices are louder is a reflection of an unfortunate reality we live in. Women in sports still don’t get their fair share of the screen time (and oftentimes, the pay rates) as their male counterparts, so social media leverages the playing field.

Of course, you can’t build a sports star overnight, but if you’re an owner or manager of a sports organization seeking to strengthen your sponsorship presence, social media is an excellent place to start.

Digital Integrations Will Dominate

Unsurprisingly, as a testament to the ever-growing digital landscape we live in, digital integrations in sponsorship continue to grow. Nowhere is that more dominant than in sports, as this is such a large stage for sponsorship trends to play out.

If you attend mainstream sports games, you’ve likely seen several of these sponsorships in real time. 

For example, to promote the NBA All-Star Game, a virtual hoops basketball game debuted in New York City subways. The game, which was sponsored by tire brand Kumho, required players to throw tires, not basketballs.

Since it was all virtual, this was as safe of a subway activity as browsing your phone or listening to a podcast. 

During a Final Four Fan Fest in Indianapolis, LG created an RFID-led training facility using NFC technology. The area was 4,500 square feet and showed social media videos and photos tied to the event. There was also a Film Room, Practice Gym, Locker Room, and Player’s Lounge. 

Digital technology allows us to create scenarios and environments we never could in real life. I mean, how else could you play basketball with a tire? A road tire wouldn’t even fit through a B-ball hoop! 

As technology continues to march forward faster, I think the rate of digital integrations in sports sponsorship will only pick up. More so, I think these activations will serve as examples for other industries to emulate. 

Don’t Discount Interactive Activations 

Of course, activations don’t have to be purely digital to succeed in the sports sponsorship sphere. Letting your attendees get in on the game is another way to grab attention and promote a sponsor’s products and services. This has paid off big-time in sports environments.

For instance, Bud Light created a Social Media Lounge at FedEx Field where the Washington Commanders play. The gaming wall let sports fans try to kick their own field goals. Besides that, fans could also make custom images of themselves wearing virtual team gear or 3D bobbleheads, then post it on social media using related Bud Light hashtags. 

These kinds of ideas continue to grab consumer attention as the 2020s continue. While I expect technology will integrate even more into these activations, that they combine digital and non-digital elements is part of what makes them so fun. 

Data Matters More Than Ever

Sports organizations and companies are beginning to realize the value of audience data more and more. It’s not enough to say you have the hot new sports player and expect to automatically get sponsorships.

Sure, that can happen, and sports is probably the only type of sponsorship where that kind of partnership is feasible, but some sponsors may still decline.

New call-to-action

No, it isn’t that they dislike your top star. They want more than a big name. They want audience data. 

It’s simple, really. A sponsor isn’t afraid to spend money to make money, but their investment (i.e., working with you) should net them more than what they spend. They want to know if investing in your sports event or team is a good idea by gauging whether it will bring them customers.

That’s why they want audience data. If you can provide that and a high-caliber sports star to work with, that’s how you create sponsorship magic. 

Sports Sponsorships Are Going International

With such a big zone of potential as sports sponsorships are known for, is it really any surprise that they can’t be contained to one continent? More so than only marketing on American soil, sports deals have spread globally.

This is possible thanks to the digitization of today’s age. It used to be that sponsorship meetings took place in stuffy business conference rooms. You had to physically meet and talk over the phone.

Nowadays, you can do everything through email, DM, and Zoom or other video conferencing software. There’s no need to meet in person. You can even deliver your objectives digitally, although that depends on the kinds of services and assets you provide.

This wide-open door, so to speak, expands the roster of potential sponsors you can work with exponentially. You can partner with a sponsor from another part of the world that you never would have had a chance of interacting with in another scenario. 

Ain’t technology grand? 

Wrapping Up 

Sports sponsorship continues to charge forth toward a new frontier, bringing many innovations with it. While some, like the digitization of activations, may be less surprising than others, but all point toward an action plan sponsorship seekers in the sports world should build upon when striving to work with sponsors.