Crypto like betting, Berrettini better than an influencer, women: this is how the sponsor changes

Nielsen has identified the trends in sports investments: + 1100% of new agreements with the cryptocurrency sector in the last 2 years. And the tennis player has an interaction rate four times higher than the average

Cryptocurrencies like betting 10-15 years ago, Berrettini attracting more than one influencer, strategic female sport for many brands. These are the main trends in sports sponsorship in 2022, according to Nielsen’s monitoring on a global and national scale.


Gianluca Mazzardi, commercial director of Nielsen Sports in Italy, underlined the boom in investments by the realities of the crypto and blockchain sector, speaking of “mutual interest”. “The companies in the cryptocurrency sector needed to make themselves known, to enter people’s homes. What better vehicle than sport? On the other hand, the so-called rights holders (clubs, federations, leagues) have had to face and are still facing a liquidity crisis due to the pandemic and welcomed this new lifeblood in the field of sponsorship, as happened for betting 10-15 years ago. Without forgetting, then, the need for clubs, leagues and federations to speak in a new language to the fans, especially the younger ones. Hence, the proliferation of NFT and fan tokens “. One figure, however, makes us reflect: as shown by Nielsen’s Italian research, the greatest motivation for the purchase of NFT and fan tokens is given by the prospect of gains from the investment (respectively 46% and 30%). As if to say, sports fans, and in general those who approach these digital assets, see them above all as a tool to make money and, only secondarily, as a way to get in touch with the team or the athlete. favorites. In any case, cryptocurrencies are driving the growth of the sports sponsorship market.

From 2019 to 2021, new agreements by companies in the sector have skyrocketed by 1100%, ousting insurance companies and airlines and positioning themselves behind cars. Nielsen expects growth to continue in the coming years at a much faster rate than any other product category, to reach $ 5 billion in sports sponsorship investments in 2026.

Influencer athletes

When we talk about content creators, we tend to refer to broadcasters or digital platforms, or to clubs, federations and leagues which, over the last few years, have been transformed into “media content” incubators. Athletes must be added to the category. For many of whom the equation with influencers is now close. This is because, as Salvatore De Angelis, digital area manager of Nielsen Sports explains, “athletes are no longer just a face for a brand but are themselves co-creators of content”. The key lies in the ability of athletes to create direct and trusting bonds with fans.

According to the fans themselves, athletes are the most effective vehicles for a brand / sponsor: 26% believe that this is the case, against 24% who choose teams or 19% who opt for leagues-federations. If we look at the digital audience, the penetration capacity of athletes and sports influencers (for example runners or fitness bloggers) clearly emerges. On social networks, Italian sportspeople have an engagement rate that is double that of other personalities: 6.65% versus 3.32%. And the tennis player Matteo Berrettini is particularly effective in this: the interaction rate of his posts is 12.45%, four times higher than the average of influencers in Italy. For companies, however, not only the big names are strategic (Valentino Rossi is the athlete with the highest average social media value in terms of content, equal to 90 thousand euros) but also the second or third tier athletes, the so-called micro influencers, who they cost less and have the ability to promote a product in particularly loyal niches. Thus, Nielsen notes, internationally in the last year the posts sponsored by micro influencers between 10 thousand and 50 thousand followers have grown by 45%, against the + 17% of those with over one million followers.

Female sports

Another trend to follow is that of women’s sports, seen by an increasing number of companies as a new territory for sponsorships. “We are witnessing a social revolution, with an ever stronger focus on issues such as diversity and inclusion, especially on the part of young people. Not surprisingly, in recent years there has been an incredible increase in sponsorship investments in sport women, “says Samantha Lamberti, managing director Southern Europe, Mena & Mexico at Nielsen Sports. Between Uefa, Fifa and World Rugby, in 2021 the value of sponsorships increased by 146% compared to 2020, accompanied by greater media coverage of the events. And in Italy, the followers of profiles dedicated to women’s football teams have grown by an average of 65% in the last two years. Rights holders begin to sell female assets separately, rather than bundling them with the male. In our country, however, there is a long way to go for gender equality. In sport and in society.

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