Sponsor Data Startup Raises $35 Million in Venture Capital

(Photo Credit: Tânia Mousinho/Unsplash)

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As any coach will tell you, the team name on the front of a jersey is more important than the player name on the back. But the sponsor’s name is where the money is.

SponsorUnited, a software-as-a-service platform that provides analytics on the sponsorship industry, closed a $35 million Series A funding round on Monday. The good news comes as many big-time advertisers are actually cutting back on their marketing efforts to meet the demand of recession-rattled consumers.

For the Love of the Game

In September, US ad spending was down 5% compared to the same time last year, continuing a four-month decline. Despite the likely harbinger of more economic pain to come, SponsorUnited managed to land a massive investment from growth firm Spectrum Equity at a valuation “north of” $100 million.

Bob Lynch told TechCrunch that while working as an executive for the Miami Dolphins he realized the sponsorship industry was complex and lacked transparency. He had questions like “who’s sponsoring who” and “how much should brands pay sponsors,” but the answers weren’t easy to find. Via SponsorUnited Lynch is proposing to create a “Bloomberg terminal of marketing partnerships” that will shine a light on the opaque world of sports and entertainment sponsorships.

And with the global sports sponsorship market expected to grow by $45 billion between now and 2026, the demand for SponsorUnited is likely to increase:

  • All 30 MLB teams generated $1.2 billion in sponsorship revenue this past season, a 6% increase from 2021, and it’s expected to skyrocket next season. In an update that would have made George Steinbrenner drop his calzone, the league will allow advertising on jerseys and helmets starting next year, making athletes look more like NASCAR drivers than ballplayers.
  • Coming out of the pandemic, the NBA also loosened its sponsorship rules, and now teams can sell ad space on the front of jerseys and basketball hoops, and can have 10 international sponsors, up from the previous three. For the 2021-2022 season, the league saw sponsorship climb 12.5% to $1.65 billion, representing about 20% of overall revenue.

Power Play: Sponsors of the World Cup in Qatar probably would prefer a little less transparency. A litany of human rights controversies wasn’t enough to keep most advertisers out of the event or change their marketing strategy. However, Lucozade, the British soda company that sponsors England’s soccer team, did remove their logos from the team’s water bottles for the duration of the tournament. Sip on that for a while, Gianni Infantino.