Navigate Research

Industry Insights

As the industry leader in evaluating and measuring marketing investments, Navigate has a wealth of knowledge in the sponsorship and marketing space. This blog shares our knowledge and insights on current events in the sports business, marketing and sponsorship worlds.

Comparing Sponsorship Impact for Major U.S. Sports Leagues

Navigate Research - Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Written by Matt Balvanz

Blog Series:  Comparing Sponsorship Impact for Major U.S. Sports Leagues
Focus:  Purchase Influence 

Over the next several months, I will be revealing some analytical insights surrounding the effectiveness and impact of sponsorships across the major sports leagues in the US (i.e., NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS). These insights will focus on metrics such as awareness, consideration, likelihood to recommend, and a handful of others. This post will focus on purchase influence, and the best performing leagues in driving the needle for this metric. 

According to research conducted by Navigate's normative database, the NBA is the best platform for driving purchase influence. So, when asked the question, “How much is your decision to purchase sponsor products influenced, if at all, by knowing who sponsors a certain property," NBA fans respond more positively than any other league’s fans. In fact, roughly 20 percent of fans, on average, indicate that they would be influenced to become customers of the sponsor. In addition, the NBA also performs the best in influencing purchase intent among aware fans (i.e., fans who are aware of the sponsor), at 23 percent.

However, when it comes to driving the biggest lift between fans and non-fans, MLS sponsorships slightly outperform NBA sponsorships. MLS fans are 6.64x more likely to be influenced to purchase sponsor products than non-fans, compared to 6.14x for fans of the NBA. 

Lastly, a different league emerges as the best for driving the biggest lift between aware fans and unaware fans for purchase influence – the NHL. NHL fans who are aware of a sponsorship are 1.75x more likely to be influenced to become a sponsor’s customer than fans who are unaware of the sponsor. 

 So, to quickly summarize the best performers of impacting purchase intent among the major US sports leagues: 
  • NBA – Best at Driving Purchase Influence among Fans and Aware Fans 
  • MLS – Best at Increasing Purchase Influence among Fans 
  • NHL Best at Increasing Purchase Influence among Aware Fans

For more detailed impact metrics across leagues or consultation on how to improve purchase influence for your sponsorships, please contact us at  

Sponsorship Activation Monday - 1.26.15

Navigate Research - Monday, January 26, 2015
Each Monday, we will share some great activation practices throughout the sports and entertainment landscape. This blog will serve as a space to highlight innovative ideas and campaigns. Want to have your idea or campaign featured? Send us a note on Twitter at @Navigate_Res. 

This week we take a look at a safe-driving promotion around the major professional sporting leagues. 

Leagues and brands are always looking for ways to tie a good cause to their name. One brand who’s been doing it the longest is Anheuser-Busch with its Good Sport Program. 

Since 1986, Anheuser-Busch has been implementing its Good Sport Program which is an in-stadium fan-focused responsible driving promotion. The program was initially created to assist team owners, facility managers, event promoters and wholesalers in promoting safe driving. Anheuser-Busch and the Good Sport program is in partnership with nearly 100 teams across the 5 major professional sporting leagues including a select group of NASCAR tracks. 

Good Sport encourages fans to sign up to be a designated driver for their friends and other fans around the stadium. While this means no alcoholic beverages for those attendees, they do get access to free Pepsi products throughout the game. In addition to the free products, once someone has signed up, their name is automatically entered in a TEAM Collation sweepstakes for a chance to win a variety of prizes. 

The program has been a huge success across the country among every league. The 2014 MLB Playoffs drew nearly 570,000 designated drivers. The top 5 clubs include the St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, LA Dodgers, San Diego Padres and the Detroit Tigers (click here for the breakdown). 

The Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and the Vancouver Canucks are just a few teams among many other professional teams who have teamed up with Anheuser-Busch in support of the Good Sport program. 

Not only are these teams and leagues promoting a good cause, they are also finding ways to engage with their fans and consumers in a unique way.

Why Do Conferences Expand?

Navigate Research - Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Written by Dan Kozlak 

Over the past five years, the NCAA athletics landscape has drastically shifted. Conferences have come and gone, schools have joined, left, and re-joined conferences. The Big 12 has ten schools as the Big 10 has 14 schools. It’s quite honestly hard to keep track of these days. 

But, why does all this realignment happen? It would be nice to say that the student-athletes and their concerns are the main force driving the winds of change, but we all know that is not true. Sure, the student-athletes will reap some of the reward in additional benefits attained through higher television revenue other enhanced revenue streams. 

However, the vast majority of the change has been and will continue to be driven by financial gains. With a new wave of realignment poised to take place, what are some of the key areas that conferences look for in a school to consider that institution as a candidate for expansion? Let’s take a look at a basic process for building the case for a university as a candidate for expansion into a major conference: 

1. University Size - More students equal more dollars, more alumni, and an overall larger fan base. Schools with large student populations are naturally attractive because they produce more alumni, which then become fans and ultimately consumers. 

2. APR and Academic Success Measures - Conferences are still set in place to help manage institutions of higher learning, and keeping successful academics is certainly a part of that mission. Schools that can enhance the overall academic profile of a conference have an advantage.

3. Television DMA Size - This is a major factor. Many contend it was the driving force behind Rutgers or Maryland to the Big 10. Just because a school may not have a strong following in a particular city does not mean that its location cannot be lucrative to a conference. It is more about the market’s reach and the potential subscription fees that can be charged.  

4. Alumni Presence - Conferences want to see an active alumni base, both in athletics and the university. Alumni are key for season tickets, donations, and more. 

5. Recruiting - Many conferences sees schools as a favorable place to expand because of recruiting access. Think about USF going to the BIG EAST over a decade ago. That now seems to purely have been a recruiting play with the BIG EAST attempting to gain a footprint in Florida, a high school football recruiting stronghold.  

While these metrics are surely not the only metrics that conferences look at when considering expansion, they are certainly a few of the most important.

Sponsorship Activation - 1.21.15

Navigate Research - Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Each Monday, we will share some great activation practices throughout the sports and entertainment landscape. This blog will serve as a space to highlight innovative ideas and campaigns. Want to have your idea or campaign featured? Send us a note on Twitter at @Navigate_Res. 

This year the College Football Playoff signed 15 National sponsors, including, Keurig, Dr. Pepper, AXE and Nike, who all activated around the championship game in Arlington, TX. 

Here’s a list of a few activations surrounding the big game: 

 •Taco Bell: Taco Bell created the first ever “Live Mas Student Section" for a college football playoff game and/or championship. They provided fans with the chance to win tickets to the three final playoff games.


•Chick-Fil-A: Allowed fans to participate in virtual games in a stadium-like setting. 

•Keurig: “What Do You Want While You Brew?” Keurig ran a video series with Emmitt Smith leading up to the championship game. The video series posed as a sweepstakes where participants were given the chance to win a free tip and tickets to the game at AT&T Stadium. 

•Dr. Pepper: Dr. Pepper was the first brand to sign on as a sponsor for the College Football Playoffs. In months leading up to the game, Dr. Pepper allowed fans to take pics with the championship trophy at a number of different games – which began on Aug. 30, during the Florida State, Oklahoma game. 

•Axe: Axe was on site promoting its new “White Label.” In doing this, they provided fans and attendees free neck massages and hair styling.

•Northwestern Mutual: “Northwestern Mutual Taste of the Championship.” This activation featured around 20 different chefs from North Texas, Columbus, Eugene as well as the cities which will host the College Football Playoff in coming years. The chefs created food and drink options that attendees were invited to try.