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AFL And NRL Add Sponsorship Value During COVID-19

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report from Nielsen Sports has shown positive year-on-year value gains for both the AFL and NRL partnership assets within live dedicated broadcasts, despite the respective season suspensions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Nielsen Sport24 2020 year-to-date analysis showed, at the end of round three of the 2020 AFL season, total game inventory value had increased 5% in 2020 (vs. 2019), despite a 9% deficit at the end of round one.

The NRL has seen a 15% rise over the first six rounds of its season, year-on-year, with round three notably producing a 39% value increase on round three from the 2019 NRL season.

The NRL rise in TV QI Media Value in the first six rounds of 2019 vs. 2020

Nielsen says this added success has been achieved mainly through virtual or banner signage covering empty seats, or fan-driven graphic integrations throughout broadcasts, also partnered with growth in viewership since the re-commencement of each respective code in 2020.

Nielsen Sports head of sports Pacific, Scott Gillham, said while the figures are impressive for both the AFL and NRL to grow their sponsorship value during a global pandemic, as fans continue to come back to live sports, sports will be faced with a tough challenge.

“There are challenges to maintaining the rise in asset values, as crowds re-enter venues, the ability to superimpose partner content will be reduced without disrupting the viewing experience,” Gillham told Ministry of Sport.

“A continuation of the positive TV audience trends would also need to be sustained.

“Much of the current initiatives have been geared towards retaining as much value as possible, with shortened seasons/volume of fixtures.

“Proactive initiatives during these challenging times will hopefully lead to positive long-term partnership outcomes.

“Short-term rises are unlikely to have a significant impact on revenue increases, however, retention yields should be more positive long-term,” he said.

When asked about the return of fans into venues for live sport, Gillham said the leagues need to be careful with how much value they try to add for their sponsorship assets.

“This will be a challenge, as models will likely revert to the norm,” Gillham said.

“Opening up new apparel or on-ground signage assets is the general approach; however, precautions need to be considered against clutter and existing partner concerns,” he said.