Which Verticals Are Most Active in Pro Sports Sponsorships?

November 8, 2013

IEG-Most-Active-Categories-Sponsoring-Pro-Sports-Nov2013Sponsorship spending on sports is on the way up, predicted to rise by 6% this year, outpacing the rate of growth for spending on entertainment (5.1%), causes (4.8%) and the arts (3.3%), per recent data from IEG. With sports estimated to take in $13.8 billion in North American sponsorship spending this year, the IEG takes a closer look at the most active companies and categories in this area, finding that insurance is the most active category across the NFL, NBA, and the NHL, and is second only to beer companies in MLB sponsorship activity.


Insurance companies are 5.3 times more likely to sponsor the NFL than the average of all sponsors, per the IEG data. Quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and food are the next most active categories (each 4.5 times more likely than average), followed by telecommunications and beer.

The most active companies, though, aren’t insurance brands. PepsiCo ranks as the most active company sponsoring the NFL, with 89% of NFL properties reporting having PepsiCo as a sponsor. The next most active companies sponsoring the NFL are Anheuser-Busch (sponsoring 82% of properties) and Live Nation Entertainment (58%).


When it comes to the NBA, the insurance sector is even more active, with insurance companies 6.8 times more likely to sponsor than the average of all sponsors. Telecommunications (5.5 times more likely) and QSRs (4.7 times more likely) are the next-most active sponsoring categories.

The most active insurance company sponsoring the NBA is Berkshire Hathaway (GEICO), with 78% of NBA properties reporting having it as a sponsor. Berkshire is also the most active company overall, ahead of Anheuser-Busch (sponsoring 75% of NBA properties), PepsiCo (69%) and State Farm (64%).


It’s a closer race for the most active category in the NHL, with insurance companies (5.4 times more likely than the average) edging beer companies (5.3), with QSRs (5.1) close behind.

Adidas takes the top position in terms of active brands, sponsoring 78% of NHL properties, ahead of Berkshire Hathaway (70%) and Anheuser-Busch (60%). PepsiCo is less active in the NHL, with 38% of NHL properties reporting having it as a sponsor, on par with the percentage reporting Coca-Cola as a sponsor.


Insurance is ousted from the top spot in the MLB, with beer the most active category. Beer companies are 5.6 times more likely to sponsor MLB than the average of all sponsors, per the IEG report, with insurance and food (5.4) close behind. QSR (4.5) also pops up as a major sector for MLB sponsorships, with auto – cars/trucks (4.2) rounding out the top 5 categories.

The seemingly-omnipresent Anheuser-Busch is the most active company in the MLB, with 81% of MLB properties reporting it as a sponsor. State Farm and New Era are tied for the second spot (each at 72%).


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