Three Ways the Digitalization of Media Has Impacted Football Sponsorship

According to PwC Sports Industry Outlook 2023, sports sponsorship is going through major changes. The one area which is having more impact on football sponsorship than any other is the advent of new media channels and platforms. In the last decade, the rise of online streaming and video services and the availability of affordable smart phones has allowed football to expand its reach beyond the traditional fan bases. Sponsors are capitalising on this evolution to break into new markets, target specific fan groups, and measure the impact of their sponsorship deals. New smart devices also allow sponsors to interact and engage directly with fans.

Increased Exposure

New media platforms, such as social media, streaming services, and online content platforms, have expanded the reach and exposure of football sponsorships. Sponsors can now reach a global audience through various digital channels, including live streaming, highlight videos, and social media posts. This increased visibility has attracted more sponsors to invest in football.

soccer fans watching a match
New media platforms allow sponsors to reach global audience.

Global Audience

No matter where they are on the planet, fans can now access and engage with football content through various digital channels, including streaming platforms (like Amazon Prime, YouTube TV and Apple TV+), social media platforms, and official football club websites. Being able to access football-related content through the internet has opened up new markets and opportunities for sponsors to connect with a much broader fan base worldwide.

Top-tier professional football has transformed into a global entertainment industry that knows no boundaries. The British Premier League matches are broadcasted in 212 countries worldwide, while Champions League reaches 450 million viewers. Football is the most watched sport globally, except for North America. The Middle East, Africa and Latin America have the highest level of viewership, with 72% of their population stating that they regularly watch football on online platforms or broadcast TV. 

Social Media

Social media platforms allow football clubs, players, and sponsors to promote their partnerships and engage with fans directly. Sponsors take advantage of the massive following of clubs and players to gain exposure to millions of fans and maximise their brand reach.

Real-Time Engagement

Smart devices connected to the web enable real-time engagement during matches and events. Fans can participate in discussions, polls, and interactive features, creating an engaging interactive experience. This is a fantastic way for sponsors to connect with fans directly, run campaigns, and receive instant feedback on products or services. Such engagement not only boosts the visibility of sponsors but also strengthens the relationship between brand and the fan.

Targeted Marketing

New media allows sponsors to engage in more targeted marketing strategies. With the help of data analytics, sponsors can analyse user behaviour, preferences, and demographics to tailor their advertising campaigns accordingly. This enables them to connect with specific fan segments and maximise the impact of their sponsorship investment.

Etihad Airways has been sponsoring Manchester City FC for the past 14 years. This long-term sponsorship deal has helped to establish the Middle Eastern airline as a global player due to worldwide exposure they received.

men using mobile during football game
New media allows sponsors to track user behaviour data and tailor campaigns accordingly.

Data-driven Advertising

Digital platforms collect vast amounts of data on user behaviour, interests, demographics, and preferences. Social media platforms offer sophisticated targeting options based on user profiles and interests. Sponsors can leverage this data to target audience with personalised advertisements. This allows for more precise targeting and increases the likelihood of reaching the right consumers with relevant content.

Retargeting and Remarketing

By using cookies and tracking pixels, sponsors can display personalised advertisements to users who have previously visited their website or engaged with their content. This allows sponsors to stay top-of-mind and re-engage potential customers with targeted messages.

Measurement and Analytics

New media platforms offer extensive measurement and analytics tools to assess the effectiveness of sponsorship campaigns. Sponsors can track impressions, engagement metrics, click-through rates, and other key performance indicators to evaluate their return on investment (ROI) accurately. This data-driven approach helps sponsors make informed decisions about their sponsorship strategies.

Spotify, the official FC Barcelona sponsor starting from the 2022/2023 season, requested customer data before concluding the sponsorship deal. It was alleged that, had the Catalan super club been able to provide more accurate information regarding their fan base, Spotify would have significantly increased the sponsorship value.

Tracking and Attribution

Social media networks and streaming services enable sponsors to track user interactions and behaviours across multiple touch points. By using cookies, and other tracking technologies, sponsors can see the user’s journey from the initial exposure to conversion. This tracking helps sponsors accurately attribute specific actions or conversions to their campaigns and have a clear picture of the impact and return on investment (ROI) of their sponsorship.

With new media, sponsors can monitor their campaigns in real-time. They can track performance metrics, engagement levels, and user feedback as they happen. This enables sponsors to identify any issues or opportunities promptly, adjust, and optimise their campaigns on the fly.

Online advertising allows sponsors to conduct A/B testing, where different versions of a campaign or ad are tested to determine which performs better. Sponsors can test variations of their content, targeting parameters, creative elements, or calls-to-action. By analysing the results, they can identify the most effective elements and optimise their campaigns accordingly.

New Media – a Key to Mastering Sports Sponsorship

For anyone looking to excel in the world of football sponsorship, getting acquainted with the new media landscape in sports is imperative. 

How digitisation is affecting sports sponsorships and sport management in general is just one of the many aspects that AISTS covers in its Master in Sport Management programme.  

We are proud to share that Ph. D. Björn Walliser from University of Lorraine IAE Nancy School of Management teaches Sport Sponsorship during the AISTS MAS programme Marketing module. Apart from this, MAS 2023 class will have an opportunity to visit UEFA and FIFA headquarters and take a court-side look at the daily operations of the world’s biggest football organisations.

Contact AISTS for more information or apply directly on our website.


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Participants attend several full-day workshops throughout the programme to experience sport. These sessions are delivered by the sport organisations and federations themselves and provide a unique hands-on experience and well as an ideal opportunity to connect to our alumni and experts working in the industry.