Rugby League 'Most Lucrative' In APAC For Sports Sponsorship Revenue This Year, Study Finds

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Rugby league emerged as the most lucrative for non-alcoholic beverage brands engaged in sports sponsorship within the APAC region in 2023, a new study has unveiled.

According to GlobalData’s latest report, APAC Non-Alcoholic Beverages Sports Sponsorship Landscape, 2023, rugby league generated $14.88 million (€13.55 million) in sponsorship revenue in 2023, accounting for 17.9% of annual sector spend within APAC, followed by Australian football with $11.55 million (€10.52 million) annually.

In total, non-alcoholic beverage brands generated $83.09 million (€75.80 million) in sports sponsorship revenue in APAC this year.

Joe Pacinella, sport analyst at GlobalData, commented, "Soccer is still the most popular market for non-alcoholic beverage brands in APAC, but it is rugby league that proves to be the most lucrative, as evidenced by the National Rugby League’s (NRL) huge $8.5 million-a-year deal (€7.74 million) with Asahi Lifestyle Beverages."

Top Spenders

The NRL’s deal with Asahi is the largest single APAC deal within the sector, ranking above FIBA’s $5 million-a-year deal (€4.55 million) with T Power, one of Zhongwo’s brands, with the Chinese brand becoming heavily involved in basketball, a sport that is very popular domestically, GlobalData added.

With an estimated annual spending of $15.97 million (€14.57 million), Asahi Lifestyle Beverages is the biggest spender in the sector within APAC. The brand has 22 deals within APAC, with primary investment in Australian football. It has also spent $9.19 million (€8.37 million) annually on rugby league.

The brand has targeted these sports given their immense popularity in this region of the world, particularly in Australia, according to the study.

The second biggest spender in the region is Coca-Cola with $14.81 million (€13.50 million) annually.

Pacinella stated, "The brand [Coca-Cola] is very well known globally and intends to dominate local markets within different sports, focusing mainly on soccer, rugby league, rugby union, baseball, motor racing, golf, and cricket.

"The brand’s 41 deals emphasise their commitment to sports sponsorship, especially as a way of increasing brand exposure and visibility."

Other Highlights

Among the top five spenders within APAC, two brands are from the US, one is from Australia, one is from China, and one is from the Netherlands, the study found.

Spending by APAC-based brands amounted to $47.12 million-a-year (€42.89 million) within the sector, accounting for more than half the total amount within the non-alcoholic beverages segment.

Pacinella added, "As rugby league and Australian football are the most popular sports within the APAC region, it makes sense for non-alcoholic beverage brands to invest in these sports to take advantage of the regional exposure it brings, especially for localised brands.

"Soccer remains as the most popular sport for brands to invest in, but not the most lucrative, indicating a need for APAC-based brands to change their sponsorship strategy and apply their presence to the interests of sport fans across the Asia-Pacific, much like Asahi Lifestyle Beverages, which are dominant in both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage sector."

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