As the sponsorship and partnership landscape evolves from eyeballs and media values being the core denominators of value, the entertainment sector (live entertainment, creative arts and lifestyle primarily) finds itself in an exciting position. 

There has never been a more exciting time for entertainment sponsorship as up until now the sector hasn’t been able to compete with sport on a level playing field. As the proliferation of media and channels available increase and appear, the creation and distribution of content has become easier and more cost effective for a brand to deliver. 

Subsequently, brands are investing in partnerships that help them to deliver something they couldn’t do on their own or through their own channels. 

Entertainment rights owners haven’t had the luxury of TV, so for decades they have had to innovate and work in genuine partnership with brands to deliver genuine business impact. Typically, they are more open and flexible to delivering a solution and often have greater access and opportunity to create content versus the bigger sports and their superstars. 

Take Cirque du Soleil for example, a Global Entertainment Superbrand with no TV platform that has been delivering effective partnerships for years, because they work hard to understand a potential partners needs and work flexibly (excuse the pun) to deliver success. 

Whilst their IP is naturally attractive as is their premium global audiences, tickets and traditional assets, it’s their ability to help amplify a brand’s story through new, bespoke or historic content that represents the most exciting opportunity for partnership. As a brand with innovation at its heart, they get excited by the opportunity to deliver ground breaking partnerships. 

The opportunities in another space, theatre, are just as great. Theatre is always on; content delivered day in day out across the country, appealing to many segments. Whilst theatre has been perceived as fragmented there are players such as ATG, who have an astonishing platform that dwarfs many sporting rights owners and is a relatively clean, uncluttered space for brands. The West End alone sells more tickets than the Premier League each year and continues to see year on year growth. 

Rights owners across both sport and entertainment need to get ready for what’s coming. a greater shift towards partnerships that are authentic and appropriate but that are also more success driven in terms of the commercials. Simply writing cheques for rights, and the values attributed to them will diminish. This isn’t bad news for rights owners by any means as the authentic and appropriate relationships could and should yield far greater returns, delivering long tails of revenue.

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