By Barry Janoff
September 14, 2016: Even as Stan Wawrinka and Angelique Kerber continue to celebrate their wins in the U.S. Open, the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year, a new report shows that tennis also has reason to celebrate, with sponsorship spending on the sport expected to hit a record $801 million in 2016.
The figure is up 4.2% from the $769 million spend in 2015.
However, showing some of the shortcomings in tennis sponsorships, it lags behind the projected 4.7% rise in overall global sponsorship spend this year, according to the Tennis Sponsorship Report from research and consulting firm IEG, Chicago.
The reason for tennis not keeping pace is "due to a mixed bag of activity at the world's major tennis organizations," according to IEG.
ATP landed several major deals over the past year, including its largest-ever partnership, a five-year alliance with Emirates valued at $50 million, as official airline partner for the ATP World Tour.
Emirates replaced Corona as the premiere partner for the ATP World Tour. Among other tennis activations, the airline is title sponsor for the U.S. Open Series that preceeds the Open itself.
ATP World Tour also signed deals that included Peugeot, Infosys and LeSports.
The International Tennis Federation had a strong year, as well, renewing deals with such major partners as BNP Paribas, Rolex and Adecco; and adding partners including Betway Group. ITF also has deals that include Uniqlo and beIN Sports.
ITF had $80 million in renewal deals and $9 million in new deals, per IEG.
Despite the presence of Serena Williams, the WTA has not been as successful, according to IEG.
"Pressured by lackluster TV viewership and on-court action, the women’s tennis organization has not secured any significant new partners over the past year," IEG said.
“Worldwide spending in tennis is a mixed bag. The ATP continues to secure significant new deals, while the WTA has seen limited growth,” William Chipps, IEG Sponsorship Report senior editor, said in a statement.
WTA's biggest deal was a five-year alliance with beIN Media Group, giving beIN broadcast rights for all WTA tournaments, including the 21 Premier events and the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
WTA's global premier partners are SAP, USANA and Dubai Duty Free.
The projected 2016 sponsorship spend is also up from 2014 ($739 million), 2013 ($708 million) and more than $130 million over the $667 million spend in 2012, per IEG.
By comparison, worldwide sponsorship spend on golf is expected to top a record $1.82 billion this year, global sponsorship spend on soccer will hit a record $60.2 billion and worldwide sponsorship spend in motorsports topped $5.3 billion last year, per IEG.
NFL sponsorship spend was $1.2 billion last season, the NBA hit $799 million, MLB reached $778 million and the NHL was at $477 million.
Emirates is the most active company in tennis, with 66% of properties in tennis with a sponsor in the airline category reporting an alliance with Emirates.
In November 2015, Qatar Airways signed a three-year deal to become presenting partner for the Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League, team-based circuit that runs annually in December with many of the world's top players.
The most active companies also include FedEx (24%), Peugeot (24%), BNP Paribas (17%), Wilson (17%), Head (16%), Coca-Cola (16%) and Rolex 16%
The most active categories in tennis are led by financial services (including banks, credit cards), with 71% of properties in tennis reporting a pact with a bank and/or credit card company, according to the Tennis Sponsorship Report.
The most active categories also include airlines (70%), automotive (69%), alcoholic beverages (47%), non-alcoholic beverages (46%), watches/jewelry (44%) and retail (33%).
Among players, Roger Federer, who missed the Olympics and year-end tournaments including the U.S. Open due to post-surgery recovery, is No. 4 among the highest paid athletes in the world, according to Forbes.
Federer has $7.8 million in winnings and $60 million in endorsements from such companies as Nike, Credit Suisse, Lindt, Moet & Chandon, NetJets, Wilson, Rolex and Mercedes-Benz, which during the U.S. Open ran a spot starring Federer, "Timeless Legends," which manages to encompass the last hundred or so years of tennis history in under two minutes.
World's No. 1 ranked men's player Novak Djokovic is No. 6 among world athletes with nearly $22 million in winnings and $34 million in endorsements, including Uniqlo, Peugeot and Seiko.
Rafael Nadal is No. 21 in the world with $5.5 million in winnings and $32 million in endorsements.
Kei Nishikori is No. 29 with $3.5 million in winnings and $30 million in endorsements. The top-ranked Japanese player in the world had deals that include Uniqlo, Procter & Gamble, Jaguar and Tag Heuer.
Serena Williams is the highest paid female athlete in the world, but No. 40 overall, with $9 million in winnings and $20 million in endorsements. She was omni-present in commercials during the Summer Games and U.S. Open via such alliances as Nike, Gatorade and IBM.
Maria Sharapova, currently under a two-year suspension due to PED-related violations, is the second-highest paid female athlete in the world, but No. 88 overall, with under $2 million in winnings but $20 million in endorsements.
Andy Murray is ranked No. 2 in tennis but is No. 74 in the world in earnings with $8 million in winnings and $15 million in endorsements, including Under Armour, Jaguar and Standard Life.
The U.S. tennis economy was valued at $5.94 billion in 2015, up from 5.73 billion in 2014, according to the Tennis Industry Assn. State of the Industry Report earlier this year.
Overall tennis participation in the U.S. increased 0.3% from 2014 to 2015, to a total of 17.96 million players.
However, an additional 14.75 million Americans who are non-players express an interest in playing tennis, while another 12.8 million "consider themselves" players but may not have played in the past year, according to TIA.
"Core" tennis participants, described as those who play ten or more times a year, are at 9.96 million, up 0.5%. Core players account for about 90% of all tennis expenditures and nearly 94% of all play occasions, per TIA.
Youth tennis participation (under 18 years old) declined overall 3.3%, but youth core participation grew 5.3%.
According to TIA, the tennis equipment market continued to experience declines, with racquets down overall 6.0% in units, and youth racquets down 9.0%. However, wholesale ball unit shipments grew in 2015 by 1.8%, and shipments of red, orange and green balls improved 1.3%, according to the Tennis Industry Assn. State of the Industry Report.
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