Opportunities for Licensees in Emerging Sports

Opportunities for Licensees in Emerging Sports

Recap from the 2024 Sports Licencing Summit

After attending Licensing International’s Sports Licensing Summit in NY on March 6th, 2024, I was struck by how many growth opportunities licensees have in the sports licensing arena, which saw revenues increase by 19.5% in 2022.

Tom Cove of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) set the stage in his keynote by sharing how any level of sports participation in early years makes the likelihood of fandom later in life much more likely. That’s where flag football comes in: The NFL’s emphasis on flag football now extends from kids leagues to the Pro Bowl (where no helmets truly put a new face on the game). The NFL’s marketing machine will surely kick into high gear ahead of flag football’s first Olympic appearance in 2028. With estimates of 130 NFL licensees, there is room for expansion. With increasing engagement of younger/female fans and unparalleled international exposure of flag football at the Olympics, the NFL will be increasingly rife with opportunities for licensees.

Licensees can also tap into fan bases of emerging sports. Pickleball is by far the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. (an increase of 223% over three years). In presenting the data, Tom Cove noted how pickleball is truly unique, with spikes in adoption by both seniors and those under 16. Manufacturers of USA Pickleball certified paddles have risen from a few dozen to almost 3000. With a merger of the top two pickleball leagues and broadcast contracts with ESPN, pickleball is ready for prime time. Star athletes will emerge: Who would have thought that professional gamers would emerge as marketable athletes? Licensors will reward those licensees who actively seek out and contract with emerging talent and teams, thinking outside the box (or the court, perhaps).

A new take on traditional sports was shared on a panel by Tyler Rutstein from Overtime, a new media and sports company laser-focused on the Gen Z demographic. After successfully launching basketball and football leagues to groom athletes for the pros (and hosting games in their stadium), Overtime’s betting next on boxing. With masterful social amplifications on Snapchat and other channels where Gen Z hangs out, licensees can capitalize on this and other “nouveau niches” in sports, creating products that resonate with their strong and growing fan bases.

Pictured, left to right: Steven Heller/The Brand Liason, Racquel Douglas/Snapchat, Roman Oben/NFL, Tyler Rutstien/Overtime

In the dynamic landscape of sports licensing, where opportunities abound, and fan bases continue to expand, licensees face the challenge of navigating a diverse and evolving market. From emerging sports like flag football and pickleball to innovative ventures in new media and entertainment platforms, the potential for growth is immense. However, licensees must also grapple with the complexities of managing rights, royalties, and contractual obligations amidst this excitement.

This is where LicenSee by FADEL steps in to offer comprehensive solutions tailored to the needs of licensees. Our cloud-based software provides streamlined royalty processing, ensuring calculation consistency and accuracy. With automated invoice generation and full visibility into contract obligations, licensees can efficiently manage their licensing operations and minimize errors. LicenSee also offers a robust audit trail and financial reporting capabilities, empowering licensees to cut down on audit time and costs while maintaining compliance with licensing agreements. By automating the generation of formatted royalty statements, we help licensees save time and resources, allowing them to focus on strategic initiatives and fostering improved collaboration with partners.

In summary, as licensees explore the diverse opportunities in sports licensing, FADEL serves as a trusted partner, providing the tools and support needed to navigate this dynamic landscape effectively. With FADEL, licensees can seize new opportunities, tap into burgeoning fan bases, and maximize their success in the world of sports licensing.