The goal of Hookit’s 2021 Sponsorship Year In Review is to provide a benchmark for brands and properties in sports to understand how they measure up on social media, where sponsorship value comes from, and how it is being distributed across industry verticals. This report focuses on nearly 10,000 brands sponsoring major professional sports leagues, teams, events, venues, and athletes.

What’s Included In The 25-Page Report:

  • The State of Sports on Social Media
  • The Leading Brands & Categories in Sponsorship
  • Top Athletes & Sports Properties on Social
  • Brands & Properties On The Rise
  • Key Lessons for 2022 planning

NEW THIS YEAR: Get the insights in report format (PDF) OR watch our summary video!

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The sports world rebounded quickly from the COVID shutdown of 2020, seeing strong growth in new followers, fan engagement, and value for sponsors in 2021. Each of these categories saw double-digit growth as social and digital activations continued to thrive even as fans piled back into stadiums around the world. Events and venues especially saw huge jumps in fan engagement in 2021 after the delays or cancellations of 2020, though this fan engagement didn’t translate to value for every event. 

Nike kept its position atop the sponsorship value rankings, with over 16k entities in sport including the Swoosh in a social post. Gambling brands, which saw major growth in 2020, did not keep their momentum in 2021, replaced by newcomers in cryptocurrency, NFTs, and FinTech. Every one of the top 50 brands by AAV was heavily invested in global football, motorsports, basketball, or cricket. These 4 sports happen to be 4 of the top 5 sports globally byAAV, with global football again the dominant force, accounting for 40% of all fan engagement and 46% of AAV across all sports.

TikTok took over in 2021, becoming the #1 platform by average fan engagement per post. Each post on TikTok averaged 10x the engagement seen on Instagram, the #1 platform for followers and value generated. Even though Instagram has a volume advantage right now, athletes and sports organizations adopting TikTok to promote brands are seeing excellent results.