Ministry of Sport

Why The AFL Is Well Positioned To Take Advantage Of The Growth In Sponsorship Spend

Brand spend on sports sponsorship will grow four per cent this year to AU$65 billion globally and the AFL is well-positioned to take advantage of this growth after being ranked as the nation’s most popular sport.

Australian sporting bodies, rights owners, venues, agencies, publishers and brands are facing increasing competition for fan engagement as they battle through the fragmentation of audiences and proliferation of brands available to them.

Nielsen’s FANLINKS, which brings together two existing Nielsen data sets – Nielsen Consumer & Media View (CMV) and Nielsen SportsLink, has identified avidity and engagement behaviours from fans to give a more accurate assessment of fan reach and engagement across the total sports landscape.

At a topline level, Nielsen FANLINKS key metrics include:

  • Claimed sports fan – a stated personal interest in itemised sports
  • Active sports consumers – measures whether an Australian actively engages with a sport (if not claimed fans). This is based on past 12 month behaviours – consumed the sport on TV or online (more than 30 minutes), attended an event or actively sought information in the media
  • Total Fan Base (claimed fans + active consumers) – a measure of the overall health of the sport and total available audience

Based on this fan identification framework, AFL ranks as the nation’s most popular sport, attracting over 9.5 million potential consumers.

This lucrative selling point has brands wanting to do business with the league and why Darren Birch, General Manager – Growth, Digital and Audience at AFL, executes digital innovation, product, marketing, new revenue streams and AFL Media, to ensure the AFL Capitalises on fan engagement and drives sustainable revenue, brand equity and audience growth.

“I’m passionate about the future growth of the game and driving emerging fan markets, including Kids aged 5-12, women, Northern Markets in Australia as well as international expansion,” Birch said.

The top 18 sports nationally attract a minimum total base of over 4 million Australian consumers, highlighting the broad array of consumer connections available to brands within the market.

Rights-holders could potentially be under-exploiting their sponsorship businesses by continuing to package and sell sponsorship just as they did 20 years ago – offering brand exposure through linear broadcast coverage as the main benefit for brands.

What digital assets rights-holders are able to offer in their sponsorship packages, as well as the ability to cut-through and connect in a meaningful way via fan engagement initiatives will ultimately impact the net commercial gains that can be achieved via sponsorship connections directly.

Below are the percentage of fans who were able to recall the primary sponsors of BBL, AFL, NRL and Supercars.

Shaun Carney

Shaun Carney