The Right’s Stuff

Why Rights Holders Must Evolve to Thrive

It’s time to be honest with ourselves.

The sponsorship market is a challenging place as we enter 2018.

Well publicised, premium properties are attracting sub-optimal rights fees while some are failing to make any sort of headway in the market whatsoever.

While there’s no doubt that economic uncertainty, for the most part sparked by Brexit, is having a dampening effect on rights sales. That said, this is providing something of a smokescreen that disguises broader structural challenges facing rights holders, particularly in the UK.

There is no doubt that well-packaged properties reaching premium audiences are retaining their value as Santander’s purchase of a UEFA Champions League package from 2018/19 onwards proves.

But for those underperforming properties, this is precisely where the issue lies. In the packaging.

In sponsorship terms, that means the way in which properties are presented to potential partners.

The days when a generic sponsorship pack can be tweaked slightly in the cab between meetings with an automotive prospect and one in financial services are all but gone.

Rights holders must do so much more nowadays to reconcile the inventory they are offering with the business demands of the client at hand.

This isn’t a demand for rights-holders to start changing the fundamentals of their product (albeit, for some sporting properties, some serious head-scratching is required in this area).

Let’s face it, for most, it is not straightforward to rustle up new, more innovative or more flexible inventory, although the need to do so should never be ignored. It’s more of a call to recalibrate their sales operations and align more effectively with client demands.

The move that is required is from presenting opportunity – the sponsorship property as a blank canvas onto which a sponsor can illustrate their own story – to presenting real business solutions that utilise inventory to meet actual commercial objectives.

The step-change needs to be made now, while the incredible benefits of sponsorship still resonate strongly with marketers and, increasingly, with fans themselves.

Standing still simply isn’t an option because, if or when the Brexit cloud clears, those rights holders that haven’t reacted to the evolving demands of the market will be caught in a trap that will continue to devalue the potential of their properties.

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