Was 2022 the year brands began to tap into sports? With €78 million worth of digital activations across 59,700 digital posts. The untapped potential of digital examined in our Digital Value of Fans 2023 report.
Our newest Horizm report shows that as digital channels continue to represent such an increasingly significant source of value for sports rights holders, we have created our annual “Digital Value of Fans” report to better understand the value of the digital landscape in sports. This year we’ve also recognized the value sports fans bring to brands and media agencies, with over 590 brands generating almost 80M euros in total value, we wanted this report to also look at digital in sports through the lenses of brands.
The report highlights the incredible global influence of sport, with the top 25 leagues in the world enjoying a combined audience of over four billion, generating more than €2.8bn and 676 billion impressions through their digital inventory.
Legendary Leagues – Dominating the global sports industry in terms of audience size and value generated is football, with six of the top 10 and 16 of the top 25 leagues. The Premier League and La Liga are the clear winners, with more than 863 million and 735 million followers and €566m and €420m in value generated respectively. Compared with 2020, the top 5 leagues continue to grow their inventory and audience upwards of 20% a year and in many occasions upwards of 40-50%.
The NBA remains the leader in US sports globally, despite the domestic dominance of the NFL. The Women’s Super League broke into the top 25 leagues across all three metrics, demonstrating the continued growth of women’s football.
The report highlighted the strong performance of football’s individual clubs, with Real Madrid and Barcelona enjoying by far the largest audience sizes (331 million and 314 million respectively). Manchester United were third with 204 million. The top 25 teams including PSG, Chelsea and the Mumbai Indians generate about 50% of the value (with also about half of the total audience) that the top 25 leagues do. Just these teams alone have a combined audience of 2.4B and generate an annual value of 1.4B euros.
Influencers & Athletes are not to be underestimated. As our report indicates the top 25 influencers have a similar combined audience (4.1B) to the top 25 leagues and all their teams. Furthermore they’re highly engaged with engagement rates for these individuals are much higher than for the top 25 teams (9.8% vs 5.6%). Footballers reign supreme, with Cristiano Ronaldo (800 million), Lionel Messi (over 500 million) and Neymar (over 350 million) ranking highest for audience size. The trio are also responsible for driving the highest engagement rates.
Finally, the report shows the huge opportunity for brands. There are more than 590 brands activating digitally in the sports industry, generating almost €80m. Brands continue to leave money on the table when compared with the available inventory we are talking about 2% activation. In most categories, there is a dominant brand Adidas in apparel, Emirates in travel and EA Sports in Media. This is highly connected with the size and power of properties being sponsored as well.
Digital Value of Fans – Our report is compiled using data from Horizm’s proprietary benchmarking tool which uses AI to analyse the digital performance of brands and rights holders across the global sports industry using publicly available data. The release of the report comes after the Horizm Marketplace went live, the sports industry’s first fully transactional marketplace that lets brands quickly and efficiently target their customers through the highly engaged medium of digital sports content.
Founded in 2019, Horizm was born with the goal of being the number one digital audience platform for the global sports and entertainment industries; to revolutionize the way rights holders and brands operate in our new digital era and fully support them across their digital asset life cycles.
Through their proprietary Marketplace, Horizm connects brands interested in reaching sports fans with rights holders looking for ways to better value and monetize their digital content. Horizm Marketplace aggregates over $1.5bn of digital inventory, offering brands a convenient and effective route to target customers through the highly engaged medium of sports content.
This inventory is accessed through contracted agreements which see Horizm leverage artificial intelligence to provide sports and entertainment with the complete toolkit needed to value, benchmark and monetize their digital audience engagement. Predicated on a more rigorous, more holistic approach to managing and selling digital inventory, one that is routed in understanding true market price, Horizm’s platform also enables rights holders, agencies and talent to drive more value for their partners and unlock new revenue streams from existing inventory.
Horizm is the chosen digital solution for leading football clubs such as Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Everton, Real Madrid, Juventus, Olympique Lyonnais, Benfica, Flamengo and Wolverhampton Wanderers along with the Portuguese Football Federation and other elite sports organisations such as Saracens, Cricket West Indies, Mumbai Indians, the FIVB, the FIH and the Australian Open.