Brands spend a lot of money with the hope of being integrated into live sporting events as meaningful sponsors. The sponsorship comes in all shapes and sizes. Certain brands will focus on earning naming rights to a stadium where sporting events are held. Others may seek to sponsor a team, which is more prevalent in Europe, but was recently adopted by the National Basketball Association when it announced that it will be incorporating team patches on jerseys. The first such deal is between the Philadelphia 76ers and secondary ticket company StubHub.

The following takes a look at how brands have recently sought to integrate into live sports, with a focus on non-traditional sponsors and newer types of events.

Fantasy Sports

There have been so many sponsorship deals signed between fantasy sports companies and professional sports teams that there exists a database related to same. The database is extensive, with much of it filled by FanDuel and DraftKings' sponsoring teams in baseball, football, basketball and hockey.

Most of the deals in this space are traditional in the sense that they include the opportunity for the sponsor to have signage at games, be listed among the sponsors of the team and be incorporated through assets such as social media accounts.

One of the more unique relationships was actually crafted by Draft Ops, a competitor of DraftKings and FanDuel, when it negotiated a deal with Monumental Sports & Entertainment (owner of the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards and Washington Mystics) to build a fantasy lounge at the Verizon Center (the arena wherein the teams play) and appear on the Mystics jersey (a WNBA team), among other deliverables.


Competitive video gaming (also known as "Esports") has exploded with interest not only among participants and spectators, but brands that wish to become part of the action and reach a variety of young eyeballs. The most organized esports event recently launched in the form of the ELEAGUE, established by Turner and WME | IMG.

In May, the ELEAGUE announced the first group of brands to join as official marketing partners, with traditional categorical classification despite the innovation of league built on the backs of video game players. Arby's was crowned Official Quick Service Restaurant partner, Credit Karma became Official Personal Finance Partner and Buffalo Wild Wings annointed Official Casual Dining partner.

The unique feature of these sponsorships is that they were largely immune from being avoided by spectators. The brands were integrated during game coverage, avoiding the worry that viewers would fast forward through brand mentions and highlights.


The World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event begins on July 9, but there have been a series of events under that banner since May 31. The WSOP has been hosting an annual tournament series for 47 years, with it only recently gaining a broad audience through the introduction of broadcasting events through cable television.

The official sponsor is 888 Poker, which negotiated its own Crazy 888 event and sent roughly 100 players from around the world to participate in same. The format took advantage of the use of 8′s -- 8-handed play and $888,888 for the winner.

This innovative offering granted their online players an exclusive opportunity to win a trip to Vegas, participate in world series of poker, and meet all of the company's poker pro brand ambassadors, including Kara Scott, Dominik Nitsche, Chris Moorman and Sofia Lovgren. It allowed them to have an enjoyable experience and even getting a taste of a professional poker player's lifestyle, while also promoting the brand associated with the event.