Commercialisation of Sport

What is Commercialisation?

Commercialisation refers to the influence of commerce, trade or business on an industry (e.g. sport) to make a profit.

The 'Golden Triangle' - Sport, The Media and Sponsorship

Each side of the triangle benefits from other sides in some way.

Sport < - > Sponsorship

Businesses pay money in sponsorship to popular sportspeople/teams to receive publicity.

Sport relies on this money to fund wages/new stadiums or players.

Media < - > Sponsorship

Businesses pay money in sponsorship to access a sports audience through media coverage.

This money allows the media to cover more sports, use higher quality presenters/facilities and implement technology.

Sport < - > Media

Sport uses media to gain viewers to increase popularity.

The media brocast sport as it is very popular and will engage viewers/readers.

Key Point: The media wants high quality entertaining sports. High quality sports attracts more sponsors and investors, bringing in more money to the sport.

If the sport isn't of a high standard and entertaining, less sponsors will be attracted so there will be less media coverage and less money coming into the sport.

Influence of The Media

Types of Media

  • Television: TV Programmes, Live Sport Broadcasts, Adverts
  • Press: Magazines, Newspapers, Tabloids
  • Radio: Local & National
  • Internet: Social Media, Websites

Positive Effects of the Media on Commercialisation

More media coverage of a sport will result in more companies wanting to sponsor the sport/team/athletes so that their brand is shown on tv/internet/magazines.

This will increase the standard of the sport as the clubs will have more money to invest in better players and facilities.

Increased coverage of the sport will result in more children seeing the sport and starting to participate which result in more sales of products such as boots.

Negative Effects of the Media on Commercialisation

Less popular sports/teams/athletes that do not receive much coverage will not receive as much money from sponsorship deals as their brand will not get as much promotion.

This will mean that they will not have as much money which can lead to a significant disadvantage as they will not have the funds to invest in better players, coaches and facilities.

Participation rates may go down in smaller, minority sports as a result of less coverage/popularity.

The Effects of Sponsorship on Sport

Companies sponsor sports events, teams and athletes because...

  • It promotes their brand – viewers and fans see their brand when watching sport.
  • It allows them to build relationships with fans – sponsoring a sport/team that fans like builds a relationship with the brand as they have the same team/sport in common.
  • It increases the popularity of their brand – if people see their role models associated with a brand they are likely to want it themselves, for example Harry Kane’s latest pair of boots.

However commercialisation has positive and negative effects on the sponsor, the sport, the players, the officials and the fans.


Positive Effects:

  • Sponsorship money allows athletes in lesser paid sports to be an athlete as a job.
  • It can lead to further roles once they have finished playing sport.

Negative Effects:

  • Sponsorship generally favours male over female and able over disabled athletes, therefore these athletes would not benefit.
  • A performer may have to promote a brand that they do like or agree with.


Positive Effects:

  • Makes a wider range of sports available to watch.
  • Increases the amount of sport and sport related shows on the TV.

Negative Effects:

  • Can make it very expensive for fans to watch as sports TV packages can cost a lot of money and clubs charge high amounts to watch popular sports live.
  • Increased adverts and TV breaks can affect view experience.


Positive Effects:

  • Advancements in technology/better equipment/facilities helps to assist with decisions.
  • Media coverage leads to officials gaining a high profile and making more money themselves.

Negative Effects:

  • Bad decisions and mistakes are analysed and criticised by the media.


Positive Effects:

  • Increased exposure raises the profile of the sport.
  • Provides more funding to improve facilities, resources and coaching which increases the standard of the sport.

Negative Effects:

  • Commercialisation tends to support the popular sports leaving the ‘lesser’ sports to lose out.
  • Changes to the traditional sport formats and rules have being introduced to make the sport audience friendly.
  • For example a golden goal rule in football was introduced to make a tied game more exciting (since been removed). Similar to this 20/20 cricket was created as a shorter, more exciting alternative to test cricket.
  • Match timings have also been changed, traditionally football was played on a Saturday afternoon but it is now played on Monday nights to suit TV viewers.

The Sponsors

Positive Effects:

  • Sport can offer an excellent opportunity to promote a product/brand name to a widespread audience.

Negative Effects:

  • Poor behaviour from athletes/clubs can cause negative press.
  • For example swimmer Ryan Lochte lost major sponsorship deals with Speedo and Ralph Lauren worth millions after lying about being robbed at gunpoint following the Rio Olympics.
  • Some sponsors are not suitable to be promoted in sport (alcohol, tobacco).

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