The Future Is Bright for Brands That Master Sports Advertising

3 key opportunities to understand and tackle

The future of sports viewing, and thus sports advertising, is changing rapidly with all kinds of new ways for fans to enjoy their favorite sports. Between the metaverse, NFTs, fantasy sports, legalized betting, performance enhancing technologies and over the top (OTT) content, it’s enough to make even the most astute marketers’ heads spin.

So, let’s explore three key areas of opportunity for advertising around sports.

Connect with fans digitally

It’s no secret that digital sports viewership has been steadily rising year after year, but it is now increasing exponentially. A report from eMarketer found the number of American live sports viewers was 57.5 million last year, and that number is expected to climb to 90 million by 2025, which is nearly 57% growth.

A recent report from Google also found streaming content produced a more engaging experience for viewers. Last year many people turned to YouTube for a connected TV (CTV) experience, and according to a Talk Shoppe survey for Google, 79% of viewers achieve deeper connections when they watch YouTube with others.

With this massive shift in consumer behavior, brands need to adapt if they want to capitalize on these moments of hyper-engagement. Adam Harter, SVP of marketing – media, sports & entertainment at PepsiCo said during a panel discussion at the Global Sportstech Summit 2022: “The first thing you need to do to be relevant is make sure your brand shows up where people are living their lives. We believe that increasingly people are going to be living their lives more and more in this digital space.”

Harter went on to describe these digital communities of sports fans as a place that contains aggregated enthusiasm, “these pockets of consumers that have these passion points where we can show up and find ways to enhance that fan experience.” is one of the companies at the center of this shift from passive legacy content to digitally native, interactive and engaging content. The fan engagement platform offers users the ability to connect directly with athletes over live watch parties, personalized videos and unique branded merchandise all on a single platform. Fans don’t just watch content, but rather become participants and engage directly with their favorite athletes in new and innovative ways.

Leverage the right kind of influencers

Living within these digital communities of sports fans are the athletes, and they have become the modern day influencers for brands looking to connect with these passionate fans. VICE recently released a “Guide to Culture,” meant to provide actionable intelligence for brands.

One insight from the guide is that Generation Z no longer cares about influencers who are simply famous for being famous. Instead, this audience is attracted to creators who provide a richer value exchange between themselves and audiences. “Today a new guard of influencer is rising—’teachers’—democratizing and sharing not only what they do, but how they do it. Their communities gravitate towards them for an enriched learning experience.”

In the sports world, those teachers are high level athletes, but could also be coaches, trainers and former players. But before you sign on with one of these individuals, ask if the content they’re creating is influential—does it authentically deliver relevant learning opportunities? If not, keep looking for the right fit.

Align with companies satisfying specific needs

The final key component for brands looking to succeed in sports marketing is to align with companies and influencers who are satisfying specific needs. Not all sports technology companies are accomplishing this goal, but the ones focused on specific needs will thrive, and brands will want to be aligned with those winners early on.

During the Global Sportstech Summit 2022, Javier Sobrino, managing partner at Aser Ventures, a leading investor in sports technology companies, shared, “The industry is too focused on technology and less focused on needs to be satisfied. I think this is a key element. We, as people in the industry, need to fully analyze and be aware of what are the needs we want to satisfy.”

One of the most pressing needs for all humans is the need to feel a part of something larger than themselves or any one individual. Community connection is crucial, especially to Gen Z, who wants to be connected to others through shared norms, customs and experiences. The VICE Guide to Culture also found 90% of Gen Z wishes they spent more time with their community.

MILLIONS allows fans to be part of the action and connect with athletes even as they compete with in-the-moment merch drops, live streams immediately after memorable moments and one-to-one social connections through personal videos. These interactions also give the athletes a chance to show their true authentic selves to their fans and followers.

Brands are already capitalizing on those interactions and points of engagement. US Mobile sponsored 13 watch parties during Super Bowl LVI and each one of them was hosted by a former NFL star. The execution delivered nearly 6.3 million impressions, 344,000 points of engagement and 4,281 clicks to US Mobile.

That’s just one company, and the opportunities are endless. Brands that build a strategy to connect with sports fans who are engaged in the moment can expect to see many wins in the future ahead.  

Matt Whitteker is the co-founder and CEO of, the world’s largest social commerce platform connecting the sports world. Prior to cofounding MILLIONS, Matt cofounded a global supply chain data management SaaS company and helped grow it into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.