“While IMG’s client roster looks like the red carpet for the hottest party in St. Tropez, what has potential buyers in love is IMG College.” So says Bloomberg in this brief video you’ll want to view, pulling the curtain on IMG’s engine of growth!
As you can see in the picture below, the market of collegiate sports fans in the US accounts for a large market size. Through IMG College, IMG has found a way to integrate the revenue potential of collegiate athletics in its overall business model and thus has found a way for collegiate athletics to interact with and supplement the company’s other commercial assets. According to the company itself, IMG College has the longest consecutive partnership with the NCAA, which dates back to 1976. IMG’s focus seems like a SMART strategic choice given the fact that there are more than 173 mio. sports fans following collegiate athletics (US Census; The ESPN Sports Poll, a service of TNS, 2011). There may be many sports fans following the NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS or motorsports but college sports fans as a total surpass these numbers. In addition, it is interesting for marketers to keep in mind that collegiate athletics have a large female audience (78 mio. fans) and that it is built upon a foundation of high emotional equity (ibid).
Photo: Collegiate Athletics – Fan Base Trending, 2000-2010 (source:US Census; The ESPN Sports Poll, a service of TNS (June 2011).
Moreover, it is a great strength for IMG’s business model that the level of emotional equity in general is very high and that IMG’s growth within collegiate athletics links the company with an interesting segment of well-educated and medium- and high-income fans due to the relationship with many college graduates. This segment of prosperous fans attaches an appealing degree of diversity to IMG’s total pool of business offerings. Regarding the degree of diversity, IMG College sets the tone in terms of giving IMG’s business model a wider reach, which marks a span across various cultural borders.
In 2011, the consumption of college merchandise accounted for $4.6 billion(License Global Magazine and CLC). Collegiate athletics are also scoring high on ‘attendance’ and ‘media ratings’. In 2009, more than 114 mio. fans attended a college sporting event and two of the most watched championships in 2011 were collegiate events (ESPN.com 2010; NCAA Sports Statistics for the 2010-2011 Academic Year; Nielsen Media). The latter refers to events such as the BCS Football Championship and the NCAA Basketball Championship. Collegiate football was the top-rated program on four of the first five Saturday nights of the 2012 season (Nielsen Media). Drawing upon the perspective, that ‘experiential marketing’ and hence platforms for engagement and involvement have become more popular among sports marketers, it is good news for IMG that college sports fans are very passionate and underscore the ‘perfect platform for fan engagement’. Marketers can also benefit from the fact that college sports fans are vital business sources. They are 35% more likely than the general population to be ‘small business owners’ (Simmons NCS Adult Survey, Spring 2012 12-Month). Collegiate athletics provide ongoing communication with sports fans and thus consumers, who follow various sports, e.g. football, basketball, baseball, soccer, lacrosse etc. This communication process is also centered on campus events like ‘back-to-school events, graduation etc. These services are in high demand among marketers who have experienced IMG College’s advantage of bringing marketers in touch with commercial assets in 49 of the top 50 US markets via national promotional platforms meant to deliver local, regional and national activation options. Lastly, college fans can be associated with a high degree of positive associations but also lower negative associations than fans of other sports leagues.
Photo: Foundation for Fan Engagement (source: Simmons NCS, Winter 2011).
Photo: Positive and Negative Associations (source: IMG and SSI Research Survey, 2011).
From my chair, IMG College owns a great business platform. Consumers spend large amounts of money on sports and that is not expected to slow down. To put things in perspective, consumers spent more than $85 billion on tickets to US sporting events in 2011 (Bureau of Economic Analysis, Personal Consumption Expenditures by Type, October 2012). The majority (55%) of sports industry executives consider collegiate athletics the best in-person fan experience (Turnkey Blogs: Opinions of the Industry’s Hottest Topics, 2012) so these combined facts show a tendency, which connects IMG College with a positive business outlook for the years to come. Readers have to keep in mind that we are in the aftermath of a global financial crisis in which IMG has succeeded in branding and re-inventing itself positively and that speaks for itself in terms of setting the tone for IMG’s future business potential.
Bureau of Economic Analysis, Personal Consumption Expenditures by Type, October 2012.
IMG and SSI Research Survey 2011.
License Global Magazine and CLC.
NCAA Sports Statistics for the 2010-2011 Academic Year.
Simmons NCS Adult Survey, Spring 2012 12-Month.
Simmons NCS, Winter 2011.
Turnkey Blogs: Opinions of the Industry’s Hottest Topics. October 31, 2012).
US Census; The ESPN Sports Poll, a service of TNS (June 2011).