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Increasing commercialization in men’s tennis

ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) has been capable of increasing prize money and budget in a rough economic climate. One of the reasons for this development may be related to sponsorship research showing that sports sponsorships have shown growth tendencies on a global scale despite the bumpy economic climate the past couple of years. That does not mean that it is easy for sport organizations to attract sponsors because competition in that regard is more intense. When the intensity of competition rises, it comes down to a simple game: survival of the fittest. The strongest sports brands will survive, e.g. ATP. For such brands, it is imperative to reach attractive target groups effectively through a strong sports product with a high competitive level and true excitement marked by rivalries between exceptional players like Djokovic, Nadal and Federer. On top of that, ATP offers access to premium events, i.e. the four Grand Slam tournaments and Barclays ATP World Tour. These events are spread throughout the calendar year so ‘the big event is never far away’. ATP has created fan based and corporate appeal globally and that leaves room for long-term commercial partnerships, which present great exposure, hospitality, and activation opportunities via ATP’s multitude of commercial platforms. Especially, the ‘activation factor’ makes the sport dynamic and vivid. Years ago, Bjørn Borg formed an indispensable juncture for the commercial development in men’s tennis, which in the following years has portrayed several icons, who are perfects fits for the pop culture surrounding tennis and highlighting the magnitude of ‘marketable entertainment in sport’.


Other sport organizations may find some lessons learned if they choose to follow ATP. For any sport organization, it serves a reasonable purpose to benchmark itself against strong sports brands. This can lead the way in adapting and developing the core product and the related services, which add to the product and thus give fans, sponsors and other commercial stakeholders the total sports experience. For a sport organization, it is essential to recognize that professional sport has limited commercial conditions if the organization is not competent enough to create ‘value for money’. The latter refers to constantly striving to evaluate and re-invest in order to facilitate innovation and powerful commercial platforms, which establish emotional connections with commercial stakeholders. Such a scenario will reflect itself positively on the ‘bottom line’. Effective brand integration is crucial to obtain ROIs in the business of sports. ATP has succeeded in that case and in integrating the best players, which are among the biggest celebrities worldwide. Collaboration between the sport’s leading governing bodies and the players generates vibrant content and marketable entertainment for all stakeholders. From a media perspective, tennis has also by the use of extensive accessibility found a commercial rebirth linked player, fan, and business opportunities and that provides men’s tennis with promising future growth potential.

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