Dec 30, 2020 at 12:00 AM
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Our Top Sponsorship Stories From 2020 :(

Sometimes success is not just measured in achievements, but simply in surviving to fight another day. Unfortunately, that was the theme for many sponsorship professionals this year, as the Covid-19 pandemic disproportionately rocked the live event industry. None of us could have foreseen such a year when we wrapped up 2019 at this time last year. While this year, saw less sponsorship deals due to Covid-19, there were still trends from the past year that are reflective of some of the biggest changes happening throughout the industry and it's undeniable that some of the necessary trials spurred on by the pandemic will bring permanent improvements to our industry. That's the upside to 2020, if there is one, and the sponsorship industry now more so than ever before will need to adapt to survive. While the live events industry struggled with as much as a 37% year-over-year decline in rights-fees, there is light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines being distributed worldwide and hope that live events will normalize in the Spring/Summer of 2021. With that in mind, here are some of the trends from the past year that we believe will spur a major rebound and massive growth in a post-pandemic sponsorship world.

Make-Goods - The theme of 2020, rather unfortunately, was that major sponsors, teams and their agencies were often faced with the unenviable position of scrambling to unwind sponsorship agreements or working in good faith to allow for make goods on unfulfilled inventory due to Covid-19. Thankfully, the latter seems most prevalent, though Covid-19 did upend some major sponsorship deals "like this one. While play has largely resumed, make-good benefits will likely stretch well beyond 2020 resulting in delayed and restructured renewal deals. 

CBD Growing, but Not Quite Mainstream - Cannabis companies are expanding and using sports and entertainment sponsorships to help remove the stigma of cannabis and break into the mainstream. WeedmapsNanocraft, Kadenwood and cbdMD are among those actively signing sponsorships. In a highly fragmented land grab industry, look for newcomers to take a similar strategy, but the real seal of legitimacy will come when/if major teams and leagues are finally able to sign CBD sponsors. 

Mortgage Mania - With the 30-year fixed mortgage rate, the most popular home loan product, at record lows and new home sales rising a 14-year high, companies like Quicken Loans/Rocket Mortgage and Guaranteed Rate rapidly expanded sports and entertainment sponsorship portfolio, as well as smaller regional lenders.

Ordering Up Sponsorships - This was one of our trends from 2019, but none of us could have foreseen the massive 100% growth that food ordering apps would experience this year due to Covid-19.  DoorDash, Uber Eats and Postmates all signed prominent new sponsorships this year to capture market share in this ultra-competitive category, while Postmates was acquired by Uber and DoorDash went public. 

Sports Gambling Sponsorships - More than a dozen states have legalized sports betting with more likely on the way as states see the success of other states and look to make up for their own massive budget shortfalls. The emergence of mobile sports betting will be one of, if not the, largest sponsorship categories with many teams already locking in deals or in talks with fast-growing players like BetMGM and PointsBet.

Broader Uniform Ads - While the first wave of the NBA's patch program deals are up for renewal (a success by most measures), the focus for some leagues now appears to be on expanding uniform ads. The NHL recently announced that teams would be able to start selling sponsorships on helmets and the NBA has reportedly considered allowing a second jersey sponsorship patch on game jerseys.

That's our rundown of some of the top sponsorship trends in 2020. If you want to see all of the sponsorship deals that happened this year, you can download them with SponsorPitch's handy deal export feature and there's still time to upgrade your subscription in 2020 with our end of year 20% discount. Subscribe with the discount code "2020" by midnight, 12/31/2020 to take advantage and start 2021 with the world's #1 sponsorship acceleration platform!