For example, in addition to its world famous men's football team, Paris Saint Germain has an equally successful women's team, a handball team that has won the French Championship ten times and an esports team that has made it into the top 12 of the League of Legends World Championships.
Spanish football giants Real Madrid also boast some outstanding divisions. In addition to the men's team, there is a women's team and a successful basketball team.
More Divisions For Greater Reach
There are many reasons for rightsholders to look beyond the traditional pillar of football. If a club is involved in several sports, the target audience can be broadened. This can also increase merchandising sales and therefore revenue.
More fans also means more reach on social media - a factor that is becoming increasingly important when looking for sponsors. Uniting the world's best athletes from different sports under one club crest can also enhance your image and make you even more attractive to potential partners. The different opponents in each competition can also open up new countries. In this way, the different sports not only reach new target groups, but also conquer new target markets.
Men's Football Continues To Lead The Way
When it comes to sponsorship deals, however, there are still huge differences between sports. FC Barcelona's annual report makes this clear. While the men's football team generates almost €495 million, the women's team only brings in €4.4 million. By comparison, the basketball team brings in more than twice as much at almost €10.7 million.
FC Barcelona's handball team, with €1.5 million, is the lowest earner among the top sports. It is therefore hard to deny that men's football is still the most popular sport among companies and brands looking to partner with a sports club.
...But Women's Football Is Catching Up
Nevertheless, women's football should not be underestimated. In 2022, VfL Wolfsburg and FC Barcelona met in the semi-finals of the Women's Champions League in front of almost 92,000 fans. Fan interest is also growing at the national level. In the 2022/2023 season, the women's Bundesliga tripled its average attendance. But it's not all about the stadiums: the 2022 European Championship final between Germany and England was the most watched TV format of the year in Germany, with almost 18 million viewers.
Major sponsorship deals in women's football are therefore only a matter of time. Leading advertisers such as Visa are already increasing their marketing spend on women's sport. If you want to be smart as a company or brand, now is the time to take advantage of the success, as the reach will continue to grow.
Which Sport Next?
In addition to traditional football, there is a fresh breeze blowing through the industry, with esports increasingly attracting the attention of rightsholders and companies. In general, the sector is growing rapidly. Revenues increased by almost 120 per cent from 2018 to 2023, and total revenues of USD 6.8 billion are currently forecast for 2030. In Germany, clubs such as Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Werder Bremen already have their own esport teams, while Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are also involved internationally.
In most cases, brands and companies look at where the activation is most valuable when sponsoring. The focus is on audience, performance and/or social media reach. The bigger the stage, the better the sponsor is perceived by the target group.
So it’s no surprise that football, with over four billion fans worldwide, is still the most popular sport for corporate sponsorship. ‘Smaller’ sports such as handball, basketball or esports are often forgotten when it comes to partnerships and often do not have their own deals, but cooperate with football. However, newcomers to sponsorship should not underestimate these areas - it is often easier to get started. Nevertheless, brands and companies can benefit from the big name of the club - but the ‘smaller’ division can also benefit from the club’s appeal.
The Success Story Of FC Bayern Basketball
The FCBB can use the added value of the FC Bayern family, but now shines with its own network and independence, which is documented in the claim "We ball together". The cross-club ideals and traditions are further developed together with the energy and inventiveness of basketball culture - a perfect environment for attractive sports sponsorship. And FC Bayern goes even further with an esports team.
FC Bayern Munich continues to expand its areas of activity allowing for more and more opportunities for companies and brands to engage with the Bavarian club through sports sponsorship.
In general, the major sports clubs have recognised that diversifying their reach can help their sponsorship business. Companies that enter into partnerships with new or smaller divisions early on can benefit from the charisma of a big player in the sports business with fewer hurdles. However, authenticity and honesty remain important factors in ensuring that the brand and the club can successfully move into the future together.