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Lionel Messi: World’s Most Marketable Athlete

B
arcelona football star, Lionel Messi, is the world’s most marketable athlete for 2020, according to SportsPro’s 2020 list of the World’s 50 Most Marketable (50MM) Athletes.

The rankings see Messi’s former LaLiga rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, come in as a close second, followed by basketball great, LeBron James, India Cricket captain, Virat Kohli, and Canadian tennis star, Bianca Andreescu, to round out the top five.

The list was powered by Nielsen’s proprietary athlete marketability assessment methodology, which draws on social media date to generate an Athlete Influencer Score based on four key data points: relevance, reach, return, and resonance.

By incorporating a range of performance and sponsorship related KPIs, including social following, content engagement, fanbase growth over time, media value, and the performance of branded versus organic content, Nielsen’s Influencer Selection and Measurement Framework aims to help brands maximise content impact.

SportsPro editorial director, Michael Long, said the list helps to show the true value in sports marketing, with the inaugural rankings for the World’s 50 Most Marketed Brands and the World’s 50 Most Marketable Properties set to release in the coming weeks.

“Supported by three leading data companies, our newly expanded 50MM platform and dedicated content hub paints the most complete picture yet of where value lies in sports marketing, across athletes, brands, and properties,” Long said.

“With marketing budgets being tightened in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, spending on sports sponsorship is being more scrutinised than ever.

“Now, with the richer data sets and deeper insights provided by this year’s 50MM rankings, marketers working across all sports can easily identify where the real value lies in order to justify their spending decisions and maximise return on investment,” he said.

Nielsen Sports International head of digital, Salvatore De Angelis, said the insights will work to maximise a brand’s impact with sponsorships.

“The heavy usage of social media among today’s digital-savvy generation has led to a massive content creation boom,” De Angelis said.

“Nielsen’s proprietary methodology enables unique insights into how athlete influencer content resonates with target audiences.

“By powering SportsPro’s 50MM list, we’re able to help brands better understand campaign effectiveness and how to maximise impact across campaigns,” he said.

Interestingly, female athletes accounted for 17 of the top 50 most marketable athletes for 2020, with tennis star Bianca Andreescu, in fifth place, topping American gymnast, Simone Biles, who placed 14th.

The sports with the most input into the list include soccer, basketball, and tennis, with 15 of the top 50 being soccer athletes, seven being basketball athletes, and six being tennis athletes.