Blog Series:  Comparing Sponsorship Impact for Major U.S. Sports Leagues
Focus:  Purchase Influence

Over the next several months, I will be revealing some analytical insights surrounding the effectiveness and impact of sponsorships across the major sports leagues in the US (i.e., NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS). These insights will focus on metrics such as awareness, consideration, likelihood to recommend, and a handful of others. This post will focus on purchase influence, and the best performing leagues in driving the needle for this metric.

According to research conducted by Navigate‘s normative database, the NBA is the best platform for driving purchase influence. So, when asked the question, “How much is your decision to purchase sponsor products influenced, if at all, by knowing who sponsors a certain property,” NBA fans respond more positively than any other league’s fans. In fact, roughly 20 percent of fans, on average, indicate that they would be influenced to become customers of the sponsor. In addition, the NBA also performs the best in influencing purchase intent among aware fans (i.e., fans who are aware of the sponsor), at 23 percent.

However, when it comes to driving the biggest lift between fans and non-fans, MLS sponsorships slightly outperform NBA sponsorships. MLS fans are 6.64x more likely to be influenced to purchase sponsor products than non-fans, compared to 6.14x for fans of the NBA. 

Lastly, a different league emerges as the best for driving the biggest lift between aware fans and unaware fans for purchase influence – the NHL. NHL fans who are aware of a sponsorship are 1.75x more likely to be influenced to become a sponsor’s customer than fans who are unaware of the sponsor. 
 So, to quickly summarize the best performers of impacting purchase intent among the major US sports leagues: 

  • NBA – Best at Driving Purchase Influence among Fans and Aware Fans 
  • MLS – Best at Increasing Purchase Influence among Fans 
  • NHL – Best at Increasing Purchase Influence among Aware Fans

For more detailed impact metrics across leagues or consultation on how to improve purchase influence for your sponsorships, please contact us at