As we bid farewell to 2023, Sportcal analyzes the trends driving sponsorship and media rights investment using GlobalData’s intelligence center data.

Overall, the results – a general fall in deal volume and spending – reflect the absence of mega events such as the men’s FIFA World Cup, and with 2024 being an Olympic year, an increase is likely in the next 12 months.

However, plenty of sponsorship and media rights deals were still struck on the back of other major international events, including the men’s cricket and rugby World Cups and the women’s FIFA World Cup, as well as partnership and broadcast renewals for several major leagues.

Sponsorship

By Volume

Overall, Sportcal found there has been an overall decrease in the number of sponsorship deals signed in 2023 compared to 2022, with 27,193 announced over this year – a 10.4% decrease year-on-year (YoY).

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By GlobalData

Soccer by far accounted for the highest volume of deals during the year, but also saw a decrease overall of 5.6% YoY. On the other end of the spectrum, golf saw a 30.2% rise in deal volume YoY given its increased profile amid competition between the PGA Tour and rival LIV Golf series.

Rugby league, meanwhile, saw a 43.8% deal volume increase YoY.

By Spend

Brands committed over $19.92 billion to sponsorship deals in 2023 – a 0.5% increase compared to 2022 when financial services was the highest spending sector. Spending from the same sector fell in 2023 by 15.2% from $2.86 billion to $2.42 billion.

The highest spending sector was beverages, which forked out around $2.8 billion in 2023.

Technology, media, and telecoms also decreased its sponsorship spend, falling from $2.3 billion last year to $2.08 billion this year.

The travel and tourism sector, meanwhile, increased its spending on sponsorship deals by 25.6%, while the clothing and accessories sector increased its spending by 27.5%.

By Geography

Overall, sponsorship deal volume fell significantly in the largest markets, namely Europe and North America, with Europe recording a 14.2% decrease with 11,079 deals and North America experiencing a 17.7% decrease to 7,584 deals YoY.

Europe’s sponsorship spend fell dramatically by 46.4% to $6.04 billion compared to 2022, while North America’s spend dropped 34.1% to almost $8.2 billion.

Deal volume was also affected by South America and the Middle East and Africa, which saw 4.4% and 12.9% decreases, respectively. Spend in these regions decreased by 19.2% (South and Central America) and 32.2% (Middle East and Africa).

Asia Pacific, meanwhile, was the only region to show growth in deal volume and sponsorship spend in 2023, with a 12.1% jump to 5,693 deals and a 21.5% increase in spend to $1.9 billion.

Media rights

By volume

Sportcal found that 9.8% fewer media rights deals were signed in 2023 compared to 2022 with fewer international mega events. However, with events like the cricket and rugby World Cups taking place in 2023 and large rights renewals such as English soccer’s Premier League, there has been plenty of activity throughout the year.

By sport, soccer had by far the most volume of deals overall but they fell YoY from 1,772 (2022) to 1,344 (2023). Motor racing, which came second in 2022 with 574 deals dropped down the rankings to fourth with 441 deals in 2023, with cycling and badminton overtaking with 498 and 447 deals, respectively.

Horse racing, meanwhile, saw an increase in media rights deals from 259 (2022) to 247 (2023), as did rugby union, which increased its deal volume from 157 to 177 YoY.

By spend

Overall, spending decreased by 9.8% across all sports compared to the same period in 2022. However, the more popular high-profile sports are seeing an increase.

Soccer saw a 14.5% rise in annual media rights revenue from $2.3 billion (2022) to $6.2 billion (2023) on the back of deals struck covering the next media rights cycle, while American football and baseball have seen a 17.5% and 10.5% uplift YoY, respectively.

Cricket saw the most dramatic fall in media rights revenue YoY, having recorded around $2.5 billion in 2022 and $402 million this year.

For a deeper dive into the data, read GlobalData’s Sector Analysis 2023 Trends