Sports: Trends and insights round-up for 2023
December 13th, 2023, Rishad Dsouza

Sports: Trends and insights round-up for 2023

It’s been an action-packed 2023 in sports (but then which year isn’t?), headlined by the record-breaking FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Other than the plethora of annual sports events, other major events included the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup and the Rugby World Cup.

Needless to say, YouGov offered commentary (data-backed, of course) about all of these events, and more. In this piece, we look at the highlights of our sports insights throughout the year.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup breaks new ground

It’s an exciting time for women’s sport – every year women’s sporting events are breaking attendance records and attracting an ever-increasing share of media audiences . This ongoing and structural growth in interest for women’s sport – documented in this piece – was exemplified, in 2023, by the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Consumers across various participating markets were bubbling with passion for the event – in fact, just under half of all Moroccans agreed with the statement “I’m really passionate about women’s football and the FIFA Women’s World Cup”. Consumers in host market Australia turned up for the event in big numbers and three-tenths of them said they were following the event closely (29%). What’s even more exciting is that across a sample of six markets, younger consumers were likelier than the overall population to be following the event. Brits overall were far likelier to perceive the FIFA Women’s World Cup positively compared to the men’s event last year.

The US Women’s National Team (USWNT) going into the tournament as defending champions were ousted in the Round of 16, but not before helping their sponsors make a resounding impact. Across the pond too brands experienced the benefits of being aligned with the England team – the runner-ups – as sponsors like Hyundai, McDonald’s and gained in Consideration scores measured by YouGov BrandIndex.

And the other World Cups

The Rugby World Cup, ICC Cricket World Cup and FIBA Basketball World Cup. Global Fan Profiles, which tracks dozens of sports properties across various markets, revealed that a quarter of consumers worldwide are interested in the FIBA Basketball World Cup (25%), with interest particularly high in the Philippines, Indonesia, China and Spain.

Enthusiasm for the Rugby World Cup in the UK was muted initially, but picked up later even as the Cricket World Cup lagged behind (probably because of England’s poor showing in it). We even dived into the betting preferences of the fans of the two sports.

Other major international sports events we looked at were the Ryder Cup and Six Nations:

Which sponsors won big?

Sponsorship effectively sustains the sports ecosystem and is what helps sports properties reinvest and grow further, which in turn makes for a bigger canvas for brands to amplify their marketing efforts. Sports fans might not always be appreciative of sports sponsors, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t influenced by these partnerships. 

We already looked at how the USWNT and England Lionesses sponsors gained uplifts during the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Select partners of the Men’s IHF World Handball Championship made sizeable Ad Awareness gains in Scandinavia.

Over in the US, Dick’s Sporting Goods gained upticks after the NCAA deal. For Bud Light, sports sponsorship with the NFL was a means of restoring its profile after the Dylan Mulvaney controversy. We also looked into the beer brand’s sponsorship of the UFC.

In India, millions of fans said they became exposed to new brands as a direct result of sports advertisements and sponsorships during the ICC Cricket World Cup.

Other noteworthy sponsorship related topics we explored:

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