An SBJ Atlas and SportTechie analysis of Major League Soccer sponsorships reveals that there are currently 36 different technology companies with team-level deals this season. That includes 13 deals with brands that did not have a sponsorship last season, making the tech sector the fastest growing category in the league.
In August, EA Sports announced a three-year deal with Sky Sports to sponsor Premier League coverage in the U.K. and the deal will run until the end of the 2024/25 season. It comes as EA prepares to mark the end of an era and rename its flagship FIFA series after failing to extend its close to 30-year partnership with soccer’s global governing body.
A few weeks later, Major League Soccer announced an extension of its own partnership with Electronic Arts, which keeps the video games developer as an official partner in a deal which also covers the eMLS esports competition. The extension sees MLS continue to license its IP to EA beyond FIFA 23, the final edition of gaming title being produced in partnership with soccer’s global governing body. The rebranded EA Sports FC will launch in 2023. The multi-year partnership includes in-game integration, allowing fans to use their favorite MLS teams, players, and stadiums.
A new study by UEFA published in August sees sponsorship revenue for women’s soccer in Europe capable of increasing by more than $696 million annually by the year 2033. ‘The Business Case for Women’s Football’ report from European soccer’s governing body adds that club sponsorship is set to increase sixfold over the next 10 years, signaling it out as the fastest growing revenue stream.
SportsPro presented its annual Premier League commercial guide, providing a rundown of every team, every sponsor and all the major TV deals for the 2022/23 season as the Premier League enters the first season of a new three-year cycle that will see it bring in more than $12.1 billion in media rights revenue, with income from overseas deals set to surpass what the competition receives for its domestic agreements for the first time.
With the 2022 FIFA World Cup just a few weeks away, members of the U.S. men’s national soccer team are beginning to cash in on the spotlight the event shines on soccer in America with various sponsorships. In August, USMNT and Nashville SC defender Walker Zimmerman reportedly quadrupled his off-field endorsements via deals with EA Sports, dog treat brand Pup-Peroni, Renasant Bank, Heineken, AT&T and Topps. Existing U.S. Soccer sponsors have already started booking individual player deals with the World Cup in mind: AT&T, for instance, signed an endorsement deal that includes Brenden Aaronson, Jesus Ferreira, Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna, Miles Robinson and Matt Turner.
INFRASTRUCTURE & OWNERSHIP,
Inter Miami CF’s plan to build a stadium in the city of Miami cleared a major hurdle in September by winning the final zoning vote that will allow construction to begin in the near future. Beckham and local co-owners Jorge and Jose Mas received the commission votes necessary to pave the way for applying for permits and breaking ground on the Miami Freedom Park project that also envisions space for shops, offices and a park. The process will begin with an extensive environmental cleanup of contaminated land under the golf course that is the site of the project, which is expected to radically transform the largest swath of taxpayer-owned park land in the city.
The NWSL match between the San Diego Wave’s and Angel City on Sept. 18 drew more than 32,000 fans and set a new attendance record for the NWSL at the newly built Snapdragon Stadium, which officially opened in August and also houses the San Diego State Aztecs college football team.
Truist Point Stadium in High Point, N.C., announced it will be moving forward with upgrades to the stadium with plans to introduce a professional men’s soccer team, presumably to play in MLS NEXT Pro. The city plans to make a future announcement about the team’s name. The $38 million stadium, originally named BB&T Point before later renamed Truist Point, was opened in 2019. The opening coincided with the introduction of High Point’s minor league baseball team, the High point Rockers.
The Massachusetts House passed legislation in July that could clear the way for Robert Kraft to build a long-sought soccer stadium for the New England Revolution on a waterfront property steps from the Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett.
The KC Current announced that ground-breaking for its new 11,500-seat stadium will begin on Oct. 6 at Berkley Riverfront Park. Construction will be finished in time for the 2024 season.
St. Louis CITY SC and its Centene Stadium are continuing work to fix the electrical problems that prevented the new soccer venue from hosting its inaugural games for the club’s MLS NEXT Pro side. But no indication when the damage, caused by nearby street construction work, would be fully repaired.
A 10,000-seat soccer stadium could be coming to Port Covington, MD., depending on the results of a feasibility study requested by the Maryland Stadium Authority regarding the construction a soccer stadium somewhere in Baltimore City, and to make the Port Covington renewal district one of the areas under consideration.
D.C.’s Audi Field has been selected to host this year’s National Women’s Soccer League Championship game on Saturday, Oct. 29, at the stadium in Southwest D.C. at 8 p.m., the first time the league’s showcase event will happen during prime time. According to a news release, the game will air on CBS and stream on Paramount+.
The LA Galaxy and LAFC announced that they will open their 2023 MLS regular season campaigns by playing an intercity rivalry match in a historic clash at Rose Bowl Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 25.
The New York Yankees and a firm backed by NBA superstar LeBron James are taking minority stakes in Italian soccer club AC Milan, bringing together some of the most prominent properties in sports globally.
WNBA legend Sue Bird and former NFL quarterback Eli Manning joined the ownership group for NJ/NY Gotham FC, joining NBA star Kevin Durant and former soccer player Carli Lloyd as some of the other high-profile investors in the franchise.
Tim Tebow is part of an ownership group of a new United Soccer League franchise planned for Jacksonville. JAXUSL is slated to begin play in the second-tier U.S. pro league in 2025. The league currently has 27 teams with expansion planned for Santa Barbara, Calif., Iowa, and Louisiana, among other regions in future years.
Milwaukee Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio joined the board of directors at Norwich, which played in the Premier League in three of the past seven seasons but was relegated each time.
The NWSL has teamed up with sports, media and entertainment investment firm Inner Circle Sports to represent and advise the league on expansion. The NWSL intends to expand to 14 teams in 2024 and its board has approved a new set of expansion rules, with the goal of maintaining parity across the league and ensuring long-term success of new and existing clubs.
BROADCAST, DIGITAL MEDIA, TECHNOLOGY & GAMING
BROADCAST, DIGITAL & SOCIAL MEDIA
Nike’s Waffle Iron Entertainment and Observatory teamed with AudioUp Media, Range Media Partners and iHeartMedia to create the documentary podcast Hustle Rule. Based on the book Under the Lights and in the Dark: Untold Stories of Women’s Soccer by journalist and award-winning filmmaker Gwendolyn Oxenham, Hustle Rule tells the stories behind professional soccer players’ rise to their sport’s upper echelons.
Digital sports media company Playmaker Capital announced the launch of two soccer-focused digital media properties: “Kicked Back” and “Sunday League Pundits”. The 90th Minute, which will be home to the new properties, will be utilized as a foundation for an all-soccer platform and will expand to include additional soccer-centric brands that are either acquired or created internally.
UEFA reached a U.S. media rights deal with CBS, Viacom and Paramount for its club tournaments, including the Champions League. The six-year deal is worth $1.5 billion total, calculating to $250 million per season. CBS and its partners outbid Amazon for the media rights deal. Amazon currently owns the rights to the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy markets.
According to Twitter’s latest insights report, 53% of its active users are fans of the World Cup, and with that engagement comes opportunity for brands, in terms of tie-in promos, and themed mentions. Twitter says: “As it’s gotten more popular, the conversation around soccer has seen tremendous growth year over year. Casual fans, diehard fans, and everyone in between are taking to Twitter to speak their mind and connect with one another. Brand mentions have grown 27% year over year, making them inextricably part of the conversations with soccer fans.”
Major League Soccer selected IMG ARENA as its Official Data Distribution Partner after an extensive RFP process. The long-term, global partnership will utilize the latest technology to create a new standard for soccer data and drive the next generation of fan engagement in MLS and MLS NEXT Pro. IMG ARENA will deliver official data, innovative content solutions, next-generation fan analytics, and marketing tools to MLS’ betting and media partners. The agreement will see the launch of three new MLS live data feeds, designed to enhance the fan experience via a series of brand new digital, media and betting products.
Social video platform TikTok is the fastest growing news source for UK adults, according to a survey, but nearly half of people using it for current affairs turn to fellow TikTokers rather than conventional news organisations for their updates. TikTok is used by 7% of adults for news, according to the UK’s communications watchdog, up from 1% in 2020. The growth is primarily driven by young users, with half of its news followers aged 16 to 24.
LaLiga Tech, the technology division of Spanish soccer’s top flight, will help Liga Portugal develop its own digital strategy and protect its intellectual property online as part of a wide-ranging partnership. Although LaLiga Tech has arrangements with several other sports federations and brodcasters, the deal with its Iberian neighbour is the most significant one it has struck with another European soccer league to date.