What you need to know

Sports attract consumers across demographics and are a prime avenue for brands and retailers across categories to connect with large audiences. COVID-19’s abrupt pause on sports caused a major disruption across leagues, resulting in lost revenue and unfulfilled sponsorship deals. However, as sports have now resumed, leagues and brands will look to recoup lost revenue and capitalize on the increased excitement from fans. Moving forward, across all levels of sports, sponsorships and marketing efforts will be more prominent than ever before.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the sports sponsorships market

  • How fans interact with and consume sports and sports marketing

  • The future of sports sponsorships

  • The growing intersection between sports and social causes


For the purposes of this Report, Mintel defines a “sports fan” as any respondent who follows at least one of football, baseball, basketball, Olympics, soccer, hockey, tennis, golf, boxing/MMA, eSports or other sports leagues.

For more information, see Baseball in America – US, February 2020, Soccer in America – US, April 2020 and Football in America – US, July 2020.

COVID-19: Market context

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health pandemic, and on March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency in the US.

Across the US, state-level stay-at-home orders rolled out throughout the months of March and April remained in place through May and, in some cases, June. During this time, referred to as lockdown, nonessential businesses closed, school districts across the nation closed or shifted to remote operations and professional and collegiate sports came to a complete halt.

During re-emergence, all 50 states have relaxed stay-at-home orders and allowed businesses to operate with varying levels of social distancing measures in place. The continued spread of COVID-19 infections has driven some states to slow down or reverse course on reopening plans. During this time, sports have returned to resume unfinished seasons or play abbreviated seasons – all with no or limited fans in attendance. Mintel anticipates the US will remain in a state of flux through 2021, until a vaccine is available.

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