European sponsorship business hit €27bn in 2021 but still €2.8bn off 2019 high

April 1 – The European sponsorship market bounced back in 2021 with a 17.8% uplift after a slow 2020, but has not yet returned to the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, according to the 2022 ESA Sponsorship Market Overview.

Produced in conjunction with Nielsen Sports, the ESA report values the European sponsorship market at €27.85 billion in 2021, which is marginally above 2017 figures (€27.69 billion), but still 9.3% below the 2019 level of €30.69 billion.

The ESA point out that across Europe, various national markets are showing recovery differently. “For example: as theUK had mainly seen the non-sports sector slump in 2020, with sports sponsorship barely shrinking, the recovery was accurately reflected in 2021 (Sport: +4% / non-Sport: +85%),” says the ESA.

“Although all markets did record positive growth in 2021, the spread in development was significantly greater (range:from +1% to +32%). The different national political and social approaches to coping with the pandemic are apparentlyreflected in each individual sponsorship market volume.”

Russia saw the biggest improvement in total revenues with a 32% year-on-year increase, ahead of the UK (20%) andItaly (19%). The ESA attributes the Russian upswing to growth in their music industry, as well as from the economy asa whole, though obviously the current Ukraine crisis will have an impact.

Marco Nazzari, managing director International, Nielsen Sports, said: “As businesses stepped up their recovery plans coming out of the pandemic in 2021, Sport sponsorship is on course to its recovery with the return of fans atlive events. Looking ahead to 2022, fandom has shifted from large audiences physically together to more remote yetmore engaged behaviour through digital devices, impacting both sponsorship models and content distribution.Brands, sports rights holders and media owners must embrace this shift through marketing strategies to unlock revenue growth.”

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