Sports in 2017
It is hard to believe that 2017 is nearly over, but it has been a momentous year in sports, sports marketing and sports business. I look back at the top ten stories from the past year in #sportsbiz:
1. Women’s Football Takes Off
Despite controversies in the women’s game, like English coach Mark Sampson’s sacking recently, 2017 was really the year that women’s football finally broke into the mainstream.
- More women than ever before are playing the game (30 million in fact).
- The BBC broadcast a new tournament called the Spring Series, while also airing a new programme focusing on game highlights – “The Women’s Football Show.“
- There were record attendances for matches this season.
- While TV ratings records were smashed, with 3.3 million people tuning into an England game.
- Avon Cosmetics signed a world first, exclusive deal with the Liverpool women’s team, meaning the shirt sponsor on their team is different from the men’s.
- For more on this deal, read my interview post here with Stephen Rendu, Director of Beauty, Advertising, Media and PR, at Avon.
The rise of women’s football can only be a positive not only for the sport, but for wider society.
If you’d like to read more about how women’s football has taken off, read my blog here.
2. Anthony Joshua Becomes A Sports Marketing God
With Joshua’s memorable win over Wladimir Klitschko, he entered the sports marketing stratosphere in 2017. His TV ad with Lucozade Sport, ahead of the fight, saw him enter into the mainstream.
- Even before the fight, much had been made of his 13 sponsors.
- Following his win, his value to brands skyrocketed further. He’s raked up even more sponsors now, including JD Sports.
- For more on how important Joshua is for brands, read my interview post here with James Young, Head Of Partnerships, at Lucozade Sport.
Young said of AJ’s Lucozade Sport ad: “I’m really happy that AJ played a big role in shaping this film. The fact that his mum ended up being in it was direct input from AJ. We had a slightly different ending, not a dramatically different story, but he pointed out that it would be nice if the video came full circle to him and his mum.
3. Conor & Floyd Get Their Biggest Paydays Ever
The biggest sporting spectacle of 2017 was undoubtedly Floyd Mayweather’s “fight” against MMA superstar Conor McGregor. The fight, was a foregone conclusion. Yet much was made of the money being made by both stars.
- Well after the fact, we now know that projections that the fight would break pay-per-view record were off. It was recently announced it only generated 4.3 million buys, short of the record.
- Yet both fighters record their biggest paydays ever for this circus. McGregor made roughly $75 million, more than five times any fight purse from his career beforehand.
- For more on how Conor beat Floyd (in money anyway), read my blog here.
4. #takeaknee Explodes Across The NFL & Colin Kaepernick Stays Unemployed
Despite the greatest Super Bowl in history, the NFL suffered deep, sustained ratings falls in 2017.
- Colin Kaepernick’s #takeaknee campaign has been blamed for TV ratings plummeting, yet there’s no firm evidence this is the sole reason.
- Yet ratings have been falling since 2016, again politics, like the Presidential Election was blamed for TV numbers being down.
- Read more here about why NFL ratings have declined.
5. eSports Just Gets Bigger And Bigger And Bigger
eSports generated a whopping £539 million in 2017. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
- English Premier League teams started snapping up players, while FIFA even launched an Academy for players.
- Meanwhile, it was announced in 2017 that the Asian Games in 2022 will see eSports being a medal event for the first time ever.
- If you’d like to find out more, read about how eSports has taken off this year here.
6. Neymar Breaks The Record Transfer Fee
The world record transfer fee tumbled this year when Brazil superstar Neymar joined Paris Saint Germain for a stunning $263 million.
- It pointed to a transfer market out of control, with a record $1.6 billion being spend this year in the Premier League alone.
- Despite Neymar’s transfer, you might think that loyalty in football is dead. Read my post here to find out why that’s not the case and also how Manchester United have the most loyal players of all.
Neymar’s commented after joining the French champions: “PSG’s ambition attracted me to the club, along with the passion and the energy this brings. I have played four seasons in Europe and I feel ready to take the challenge.”
7. Liberty Media Buys A Struggling Formula 1
Formula 1, much like the NFL has endured a bad year.
- The sport has lost a staggering 200 million viewers in eight years.
- The new owners even admitted that having the sport paywalled has been “detrimental”.
- Read more about what the challenges that the new owners face here in this blog post.
8. Amazon, Facebook & Twitter Jump Into Broadcasting Sports
Fragmentation of sports rights accelerated hugely this year.
- Amazon outbid Sky Sports for ATP tennis rights and won.
- Facebook offered up $600 million for Indian cricket rights.
- While Twitter won rights for NFL highlights this season.
- Read more about why sports is increasingly going online here in this blog post.
9. UEFA Launches The Nations League To Revive International Football
One that might have flown under the radar, but UEFA launched a new international football competition, The Nations League.
- UEFA’s new tournament is a league format, whereby the 55 UEFA international countries will take part.
- They’ll face off against teams ranked the same as them to then “win promotion”
- From there, there will be a playoff system and even a final.
UEFA said of the new tournament: “The rejuvenation of national team football – and the UEFA Nations League – stems from the desire of UEFA and its 55 member associations to improve the quality and standing of national team football.”
10. BT & Sky Sports Finally Agree To Show Each Others’ Content
As per SportTechie, 82% of paywalled TV payers would get rid of paid packages for sports if they didn’t need access to live action anymore.
- Yet ratings for the English Premier League fell once more in the UK this year.
- Even more worryingly, even international ratings for the league fell, with NBC reporting falls to its American audience.
- This means deals like Sky’s and BT’s, to show each others content is more important than ever before to capture as many fans as possible.
Your Favourite Moments In 2017?
What were your top ten moments in 2017? Let me know in the comment section, I’d love to hear from you.
What Will Happen In 2018? Predictions For Next Year
Well, it just so happens, I’ve looked into my crystal ball for 2018 and come up with three things we’re likely to see in sport, sports marketing and sports technology next year.
Let me know if you agree, and again, feel free to comment.