NEW YORK: Brand owners are set to increase their outlay on sports sponsorship around the world, offering major opportunities for media companies capable of proving the return on this investment.

PricewaterhouseCoopers predicted the global sports market – including gate receipts, sponsorship, media rights and merchandising – would be worth $118.7bn in 2011, a decline from $121.4bn in 2010, when the FIFA World Cup buoyed the market.

Indeed, the projected figure for this year actually falls below the total of $120.8bn recorded in 2008. More positively, figures are expected to reach £129.9bn next year and $145bn by 2015.

North America will remain the largest region in 2011, valued at $49.9bn, or 41% of all revenues, with sponsorship being the fastest-growing sector to 2015, with a compound annual growth rate of 6.1%.

Elsewhere, Europe, the Middle East and Africa should generate $42.8bn in 2011, while Asia Pacific delivers $22.7bn, and Latin America posts a more modest $5.9bn.

Within the overall figure, sponsorship revenues will rise by 0.5% this year, to $35.1bn, and continue expanding over the forecast period, hitting $45.3bn by 2015.

The study said: "The key motivation is no longer just about maximising brand visibility and awareness, but is also about gaining deeper and more emotional engagement with fans and staff, and even managing the perception of the sponsoring company."

Sponsorship plays a particularly important role in Asia, where it is due to contribute 43.2% of regional spending in 2011, a share that stands at 48% when looking specifically at China.

More broadly, PwC argued measurement tools that are considerably "more sophisticated" than "media hits" will become essential as marketers become more demanding.

In all, media rights are anticipated to come in at $26.9bn in 2011, with total revenues from this route pegged to reach $35.2bn in 2015.

The report was muted in its appraisal of the prospects for 3D broadcasting, give the limited uptake to date. However, it also suggested platforms like YouTube, the video-sharing site, and Twitter, the microblog, were likely to be "complementary" to TV.

"The proliferation of digitised content, web access and social media will have further impacts on sports rights and related advertising revenues," it added.

"These developments means companies now have the ability to mine and analyse detailed information to which they have never previously had access."

Data sourced from PricewaterhouseCoopers; additional content by Warc staff