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Asian sports sponsorship set to boom

News, 23 September 2016

SINGAPORE: The Asian content and sponsorship market is set to break $10bn this year, driven largely by investment in the entertainment arena, but sports sponsorship is set to grow sharply over the next six years as a number of high-profile global events come to the region.

The next two editions of the Winter Olympics take place in Korea (2018) and China (2022), while Japan hosts the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The last of these, Tokyo 2020, is already attracting significant investment: ASN, the regional sponsorship intelligence firm, reported that it has tracked deals estimated at US$2.7bn – or almost the size of the entire Asian sports sponsorship economy today.

That could help change the shape of the market for content and sponsorship in Asia. Ben Flint, CEO of ASN, noted that the sport/non-sport split stood at 72:28 in 2012 in favour of sport, but this had reversed to 28:72 by 2015 as the "entertainment juggernaut roared past".

This shift he attributed to several factors, including the rise of mobile and digital penetration coupled with the proliferation of general entertainment content and a lack of deep-seated, generational sport passion in Asia.

He further suggested that Asian sports rights owners lacked the necessary sponsorship experience to win over private sector sponsors, while brand owners have failed to fully appreciate that sponsorship can be a viable communications medium.

But the interest is there: the region's biggest markets have seen plenty of media investment in sports recently – from India's proliferation of leagues backed by broadcasters to last year's fivefold increase in the value of TV rights for football's Chinese Super League.

More generally, ASN data indicated that sponsorship and content has doubled its share of paid media spending from 3% to 6% over the past three years, and forecast that total spending would double in value over the next two years to around $21bn.

This would place it as the third biggest media channel behind paid internet and TV, Flint said.

Data sourced from ASN; additional content by Warc staff