Sport must do more to engage teens

A new sports impact monitor conducted by sponsorship consultancy Onside and Sport for Business highlights the challenges facing the Irish sports sector in engaging younger audiences. Eight in ten industry experts believe sport needs to do more to engage teenagers, with seven in ten recognising the fragmentation of media rights is making it difficult to reach younger audiences. The 15-17 age cohort is seen to be particularly poorly served.

GAA is seen to be the sport that is most effectively engaging under 18s, ahead of soccer and rugby. Onside chief executive John Trainor said the study shows that sports rights holders need to invest in better understanding teenagers so they can improve their broadcast and matchday offering to be more aligned to young people’s priorities and consumption habits. Those that do this effectively will be well-set for the future, Trainor added.

A constant theme in previous monitors has been the growth of interest in women’s sport, including sponsorship. Six in ten industry experts still agree that women’s sport sponsorships are the most attractive opportunities in the market this year. But for the first time, the proportion that strongly agree with this statement has dropped. The market is maturing and while it continues to grow some brands will take time before making new commitments.


With the Olympics Games in Paris only a year away, one sport in Ireland that seems to be doing things right is athletics. Some 42 per cent of industry experts say their perception of athletics has changed for the better in the past six months, driven by the emergence of new stars such as Rhasidat Adeleke and Israel Olatunde (pictured). Rugby is the most attractive sport for sponsors with GAA in second place and soccer joint-third with the Olympics.

“Rugby’s popularity as a platform is clear with broadcast sponsorship of the upcoming RWC 2023 being the most attractive property to sponsor among the 12 opportunities tested,” Trainor added. “A small uplift in enthusiasm for soccer since our last wave of research is also having a positive impact across the sport with over 60 per cent of respondents now rating sponsorship of the FAI men’s national team as an attractive opportunity.”


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