The AST Wrap-up: esports, the winter games and the future of sports marketing

It’s Sunday, and you know what that means, it’s time for the AST Wrap-up! This week sees AC Milan push boundaries with esports. Vancouver set their sights on the 2030 winter games, promoting social change reflects well on brand growth, EA Sports continue their efforts with MMA & ice hockey and France finally agrees to bring MMA to its people.

AC Milan look to make their mark in esports

History has been made with the Italian giants as they establish a calculated partnership with gaming firm Qlash. This joint-venture will form a new esports team that will compete across the football and gaming world. AC Milan’s esports team consists of FIFA eplayers’ Diego Campagnani and Fabio Denuzzo where they’ll compete in the FIFA Global Series, FIFA 21 competitions and the FIFA Club World Cup.

The Red and Blacks will also participate in the Brawl Stars mobile game World finals on the 21st and 22nd November; the game has over 1 million daily active users.

COVID19 has taught football clubs a valuable lesson that you can’t solely rely on match-day content to fuel your digital marketing strategy. Esports has been an innovative opportunity to engage global club audiences with content across a unique space dominated with Gen Z demographics. This is forecasted to be an efficient partnership not only for fan engagement but for optimising commercial sponsorship opportunities as this pushes the Milan brand into a rapidly growing sector.

Vancouver aims to utilise the 2030 Winter Games to recharge their economy

Vancouver City Council has strong ambitions to host the 2030 Winter Games, which if successful, will have a tremendous impact on its economy to recover from COVID19. The Canadian City once hosted the games in 2010 and from a financial standpoint, it could prove a practical choice to bring the games to Vancouver considering its low-cost infrastructure.

The 2010 Winter Games yielded C$1.05bn in a gross domestic product, 20,000 new jobs and between C$70.2m and C$91.9m in federal tax revenue. Councillor Melissa De Genova proposes seeking provincial and federal governments for funding and establishing partnerships to finance the games if it comes to home soil.

If Vancouver lands the 2030 games, it could be the first nation to apply the same ‘footprint’ for two editions of the global tournament. The 2010 games cost C$4bn to operate; however, this could rise to C$7.7bn if the City follows through with their projected rail line to the airport and convention centre.   

Promoting social change will shape the future of sports marketing

2020 has seen Marcus Rashford, Megan Rapinoe, Naomi Osaka and Lewis Hamilton as some of sports most influential stars standing against social injustice. Marcus Rashford has won the people’s hearts with his extraordinary free school meals campaign not only resulting in a life-changing impact nationwide but a 65% Twitter follower growth.

World-class tennis star Naomi Osaka advocated against racist police attacks by wearing a face mask entitling the names of black Americans victimised by police brutality in the US Open final. This saw her following online pounce by 57%.

Formula One superstar Lewis Hamilton has actively utilised his following to support the Black Lives Matter Movement. His Instagram following grew by 44% while his general engagement rate per post doubled on the official Formula One social media accounts.

Analytics firm Nielson has identified this trend is primarily driven by young people obtaining an interest in socially responsible brands. Therefore, from the activism presented from athletes; brands and sponsors now have an opportunity to explore a new avenue to drive further engagement through this social upheaval.

EA Sports extends its involvement with the NHL and The UFC

The video game giants have confirmed a multi-year partnership with two of the worlds hottest sports franchises, meaning stimulation games will be continued to develop under EA Sport’s leadership.

The NHL and EA have pursued a three-decade working relationship thus far. The two continue to innovate the ice hockey gaming experience through new and engaging features. EA’s connection with the UFC will run until 2030; their joint focus is towards boosting the link UFC gamers feel when playing the game through improved design, visualisation and revolutionised activations.

These joint ventures allow both the NHL and the UFC to push boundaries to present world-class entertainment to both of their globally engaged audiences through the power of gaming.  

MMA rights are now up for grabs in France

French media regulator, the Conseil supĂ©rieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) has given the green light for the nation’s broadcasters to present MMA across their networks. The CSA had banned MMA coverage in France since December 2005, until the country saw it’s first MMA fight last month.

The CSA has now issued their guidelines from an open consultation they had following the legislation of MMA in France. These broadly include showing MMA action after 10:30pm on free-to-air channels; premium services can broadcast footage after 8:30pm and broadcasters are encouraged to provide full exposure of women’s practice.

MMA is one of the most rapidly growing sports overseas. The UFC has aggressively spouted an international profile. ONE Championship has put Asia’s hottest fighting prospects on the map. The Professional Fighters League are maximising fan engagement in the combat sports game, and it will be fascinating to see if MMA in France prospers similarly under this agreement.


And that’s a wrap! What impact will AC Milan’s esports venture have on their commercial revenue? Will Vancouver be the right move for the 2030 winter games? Will we start to see a change with sports brands not being hesitant to utilise their digital presence the same way athletes are? How will the gaming experience for NHL and UFC fans change under EA Sport’s leadership? And, how powerful is the latest rights agreement for French MMA’s profile?

Published by Ashwyn Lall

I'm a First-Class Graduate in Sports Business Management who has worked across Local Government, Sport and the Third Sector. Throughout my career, I've developed a thriving passion to promote sport being used as a tool to bring positivity to the world we live in. This ethos has inspired me to create a website which champions this value through comprehensive online content for you to gain value from. Join me on this journey of discovering what sport can do to enhance society.

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