Report: Professional Cycling Remains Potent Driver Of Media Exposure For Sponsors

Report: Professional Cycling Remains Potent Driver Of Media Exposure For Sponsors

Report: Professional Cycling Remains Potent Driver Of Media Exposure For Sponsors

David Morgan | 5/3/2013 | Sports Business Global

Cycling has absorbed some serious body blows recently because of the widespread doping scandal that felled some of the sport’s greatest icons, but a report from and Repucom finds that sponsors still see the sport as a good way to reach out to a global audience. The CyclingNews/Repucom report profiled 325 of 700 WorldTour cycling sponsors that account for more than 75% of TV exposure. The bottom line, the report states, is that those 325 sponsors received $2B of sponsor exposure — based on time, and legibility of their logos — 64% ($1.3B) through team sponsorships and 35% ($733M) during races and events. Team Sky delivered victories on the course during the ’12 season, but the British team also served up strong numbers for its sponsors, generating more than $550M in advertising value, based on current ad rates in various markets, more than four times its closest competitor, the report states. The report studied the tour that runs from January to October and includes 29 events, 15 stage races and 15 one-day classics. The report also finds that the average WorldTour team delivered $88.4M in media exposure for its sponsors, 84% through TV broadcasts and the rest across print and online. The Team Sky total skews the final number, but many teams deliver $35M-50M in media exposure. Team sponsors delivered two thirds of that. Sky, which sponsors Team Sky, led the way. Repucom did not disclose individual brands’ exposure values, but said that the U.K.-based media company received 50% more brand exposure than the second largest brand in the UCI WorldTour, BMC.

GOING ON TOUR: The biggest annual event on the cycling calendar is the Tour de France. For teams that competed in the ’12 Tour, TV exposure delivered nearly 80% of their WorldTour exposure via its global partners, the report found. That means the Tour de France is great for the sport as a way to introduce new fans to and to satisfy “light viewers,” but drawing spectators into other events on the circuit and finding new revenue is more challenging. The report calls for better packaging to consumer audiences, creation of more sponsorship rights across the sport (beyond team sponsorships, it isn’t possible to sponsor across the entire season), and create new revenue streams to reduce the burden on sponsorships.

BILLBOARDS ON WHEELS: Only motorsports and sailing offer as many branding opportunities as cycling, but many industry assumptions on the value of branding location are misguided, according to the report. The belief that chest branding provides the best media return is not correct, but, instead, the shoulders provide the most valuable piece of sponsorship inventory for maximum exposure. Other areas that are undervalued are the helmet and the rear shorts panel, the report states. And then there is the issue of clutter. “Fewer, bigger, better” is the rule for sponsors to live by.

A LOYAL FOLLOWING: Research conducted across eight markets — the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.S. — found that pro cycling fans are “significantly more engaged” with sponsors than fans of other sports, the report states. It also finds cycling fans to be more likely to be early adopters of new technology and new products, a healthy indicator of disposable income for sponsors. Compared to general customers, cycling fans are twice as likely to actively inform themselves about a sponsor’s brand.

METHODOLOGY: The report covers the ‘12 UCI WorldTour season, which runs from January to October and includes 29 events, 15 stage races and 15 one-day classics. The primary source of data is Repucom’s CYCLING24 service, which tracks brand exposure in live TV broadcasts across the WorldTour, including all the Grand Tours (Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and La Vuelta), seven-day stage races and one-day classics. The data is taken from the Eurosport feed except when Eurosport does not cover an event. In that case an alternate feed is used. Repucom uses QI image recognition technology to monitor brand exposure. Media valuation is based on TV, print and online audience recognition, media advertising rates by market and media channel, and weight of exposure calculated by measuring the size, location, duration and legibility of sponsor branding in each medium.

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