Sports Marketing Trends to Watch in 2022

By Madison Taylor
January 31, 2022
orange shoes laying on a black and gray field

A big reason the sports market is such a profitable investment for companies and marketing professionals alike is the sheer size of the fan base across all sports. In the business world and in marketing terms, that equates to larger audiences, more potential customers, and ultimately more revenue.

The bottom line is anything that big and with that level of potential ROI, it demands attention. That is also why businesses and marketers are keeping their eyes on the sports marketing trends to watch in 2022.

With the new year, there are also some newer sporting arenas to watch, like esports, in addition to fast-growing trends such as influencer marketing techniques. Here is a look at the top sports marketing trends to watch in 2022, beginning with the most recent newcomer to the sports world, esports.

The Wide World of Esports

As ABC’s Wide World of Sports coined the slogan many decades ago, this is “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” but it may or may not be the wide world of sports. That is because today, this could just as easily be the even wider world of esports.

To hear someone describe the game, the memorable moments, or the fans’ reactions, one would be hard-pressed to determine the difference between games on the field or the screen of play. Esports is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world and the windfall from esports only validates those facts.

While esports was well on its way to becoming a billion-dollar industry, the onset of COVID-19 only spurred the success of this online gaming craze. No longer merely a fad, esports is a bona fide player in the sports market today and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by marketing professionals everywhere. That has also made esports a focal point of sports marketing trends to watch in 2022.

Influencer Marketing Then and Now

The concept of influencer marketing is anything but new. Sports legends like the Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath have been used in marketing since the early 1970s. What has changed, however, is the way influencer marketing is being used in the sports industry and the athletes allowed to participate.

Today, influencer marketing techniques have many more platforms to use. Avenues like social media and technology-empowered mediums have made influencers much more accessible to wider audiences.

Secondarily, college athletes are now allowed to participate and monetarily benefit from influencer marketing, opening up an entirely new and expansive group of young people. With many college towns across America so involved in their college athletes, this is a huge opportunity in the industry.

These changes in the landscape have also made influencer marketing one of the most powerful marketing tools available. With recent studies revealing an increase of more than 60 percent in customer engagement, influencer marketing and sports superstars have proven to be an impressive tandem and a sports marketing trend to watch in 2022.

Viewer Diversification Is Growing

Not only are consumers finding more ways to view, but they are also using more devices and platforms to watch and engage. As another result of the pandemic, more people have spent more time online and the corresponding result was a spike in viewer diversification.

No, television isn’t dead as an advertising medium, but it has had to share more of the lion’s share of marketing efforts. Some analysts have suggested that social sponsorship’s share of marketing value may even surpass television within a few short years. That is also why viewer diversification is one of the top sports marketing trends to watch in 2022.

Marketers are now investing more in social media platforms, along with other online and digital avenues. Companies are now investing more in diversifying their advertising strategies and creating more multifaceted marketing campaigns.

Move Over Nielson

There was a time before most of us were alive or using the internet when the Nielson TV ratings were the epicenter of the marketing world. Marketers and advertisers could just look at the ratings and easily determine how many were watching what program and when.

Although the advent of the internet changed the entire playing field for marketers, the good news is that new measurement and analytical tools have also become more prevalent. These new technologies and tools, like AI, have resulted in chatbots, more interactive programs, and other avenues to connect with and engage audiences. That also equates to more tools and data marketers have to improve and guide their campaign strategies.

The “Age” of Sports

In large part due to technology enabling more coverage of the sporting world, the development of more types of sports coverage is being realized. One area where businesses and marketers are seeing this is in non-professional sporting arenas.

Although this is one of the newest developments over the last few years, it bears watching as more youth and senior sporting events are finding an audience. It may not be time to bank on age-related sporting events and leagues just yet, but there is evidence of growing popularity around these trending events.