While sports betting is just finding its feet in the USA, in other territories sport sponsorship provides a great platform for betting firms to build their brands and attain direct access to their core market. A study of deals by betting companies across our property universe shows who the biggest players are and how they are spreading their brand across markets and sports. We then have a closer look at how the top 6 teams in the premier league choose to leverage their own betting rights.
- The highest value deal is Turkish state-owned Spor Toto and its title sponsorship of the football Süper Lig, the brand renewed its deal for the 2017-18 season increasing the rights fee by $5m per-year. Spor Toto previously title-sponsored the Basketbol Süper Ligi for around $4.5m per-year until the end of the 2016-17 season. The Swedish premier football competition, the Allsvenskan, has a deal with state-owned Svenska Spel who also sponsors domestic ice hockey and handball. The influence of state-owned companies using sponsorship to fund sport is not relevant in all markets.
- The largest team deals are front-of-shirt sponsorships of teams in the Premier League. There were nine premier league clubs with betting companies on their playing shirts. Only Betway (West Ham United) and bet365 (Stoke City FC) are UK facing, others are utilising the global appeal of the premier league, especially in Asian markets.
- The predominant sport sponsored by betting brands is football, comprising teams which are mostly based in Europe. The global nature of European football is an attractive proposition for betting companies through front-of-shirt sponsorship and LED advertising boards broadcast across the world.
- There are currently twenty-three deals in the US exclusively made up of state lotteries. As betting has recently become legalised in the US there will be an explosion of new deals in this market in the coming years. It remains to be seen how the top leagues will manage the process of onboarding betting sponsors with some indication of an ‘integrity fee’ being applied.
- The top six premier league clubs have adopted varying approaches to their betting partnerships. All but Manchester United have engaged in geographically restricted partnerships since 2012. There has been a shift in strategy away from carved-up rights to a single global betting sponsor. Arsenal are the only top-six club to have multiple betting sponsors over this period. Conversely, and somewhat unexpectedly considering it has the highest number of regional deals across its portfolio, Manchester United have stuck with a global betting sponsors over the period.
- As Manchester United’s global deal with Marathonbet expired at the end of the 2017/18 season, the brand announced a new deal with Manchester City for the coming season. As yet, Manchester United have not announced a replacement for Marathonbet. The question is whether they will stick with a global deal or move to a restricted rights model contrary to the direction other clubs are heading.
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