Endorsement, media deals grew for both female professional and NIL athletes in 2022

SponsorUnited recently released its 2022 Sports Sponsorship Year in Review report, offering a comprehensive view of sports sponsorships and endorsements this year.

Compiled using SponsorUnited’s proprietary platform data from January 2022 through November 2022, the report analyzed sports sponsorships across leagues, teams, and individual athletes.

“2022 has been a year to remember for the sports sponsorship industry,” said Bob Lynch, Founder and CEO of SponsorUnited.

“From the bounce-back in sponsorship deals and entitlements led by disruptive categories and companies, to the significant expansion in social endorsements–particularly on TikTok for female athletes–this year has brought a wave of new opportunities for brands across numerous industries.”

The leading global sports and entertainment intelligence platform tracking 1.1 million sponsorships and endorsements across 250,000 brands and properties, SponsorUnited found that endorsement and media deals grew 20% year-over-year for both female professional and NIL athletes.

There was a 102% increase in brands buying sponsorships or media deals across NIL alone.

NIL (name, image, likeness) saw major social sponsorship growth with football leading with 598 deals, including 12 players with social media-focused deals worth more than one million dollars.

Men’s basketball followed with 328 deals, and women’s basketball took third with 234 deals.

Norfolk State’s track and field phenom Rayquan Smith was the most sponsored athlete of 2022 with 58 deals, ranking number among athletes globally.

Besides an incisive recap of 2022 highlights, the SponsorUnited report also provides predictive analysis of what we can expect to see next year.

“As we move into a new year, we can expect to see greater growth within newer sports sponsorships areas, particularly in digital,” said Lynch.

Women’s sports saw a 20% increase in partnerships year-over-year as NWSL’s Alex Morgan and tennis star Serena Williams led the list with 27 deals each, while college softball superstar Lauren Burke came in second with 22 partnerships.

Women athletes are poised to dominate sponsorships. Brands’ sponsorship of female athletes grew 20% in 2022, with 70% growth in social engagement.

Female athletes are on track to eclipse their male counterparts in social engagement by 2024.

Digital assets will continue to grow in dominance, highlighted by digital signage, streaming, and other digital sponsorships that present opportunities for brands to connect to fans in new ways that are unavailable in traditional media.

The number of charities & nonprofits with athlete sponsorship deals has increased 85% since 2019. Major pro sports and athlete charity sponsorships are expected to grow by 25% next year as lifestyle brands sponsorships are predicted to grow.

“Sports fans across the leagues want more ways to engage with their favorite teams and players. We can expect to see brands exploring these new channels more in 2023 and beyond,” said Lynch.

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