Navigate Research

Industry Insights

As the industry leader in evaluating and measuring marketing investments, Navigate has a wealth of knowledge in the sponsorship and marketing space. This blog shares our knowledge and insights on current events in the sports business, marketing and sponsorship worlds.

The Benefits of Coming Close

Navigate Research - Monday, November 02, 2015

Written by Jacquie Callahan

While winning a championship is every sports organization’s benchmark for success, coming close isn’t a complete failure, at least in terms of generating immediate fan engagement and revenue.  Until last night, and with last year’s loss against the San Francisco Giants, the Kansas City Royals had not won a World Series championship since 1985.  Even though it was almost 30 years since their last title, due to their recent accomplishments including back to back championship appearances, the Royals franchise has seen a positive impact on their fan engagement and overall financial success of the franchise.

From a measurement perspective, The Royals’ 2014 World Series appearance helped improve overall fan consumption.  According to an article in the Kansas City Star, 70 percent of adults in the Kansas City DMA either watched, attended or listened to at least one Royals game in 2014.  At 70 percent, this kind of fan consumption was tied with the Kansas City Chiefs and far surpassed University of Missouri sports teams.  Attendance jumped 12 percent for the season, and the playoff run generated more than $20M in revenue for the club.  The average attendance per game in 2014 was 21,628 and jumped to 26,587 in 2015. 

One question that immediately comes to mind is whether or not this success will be sustained over a long period of time, or will it just be something that is short-lived?  The Tampa Bay Rays were runner-ups in the 2008 World Series, which was also the team’s first winning season.  They saw some success in total revenue for that year with a total franchise revenue of $160M in 2008 (up from $138M in 2007), but dropped to $156 the following year.  They improved from a franchise value of $290M in 2008 to $320 in 2009, however, it is still considered one of the least valuable franchises in MLB.  The Texas Rangers saw a spike in average regular season home attendance between 2011 and 2012 following their trip to the World Series in 2011 against the St. Louis Cardinals in which they were defeated. The Detroit Tigers lost the World Series to the San Francisco Giants in 2012, but making it that far helped overall revenue increase from $238M in 2012 to $262M in 2013.

Since 2002 the Royals have continued to gain value as a franchise.  The most success the franchise has had was following the 2014 World Series appearance and is projected to improve following this year’s championship.  At the start of the 2015 season, the Royals were ranked 5th in the league in attendance and the average Royals ticket cost nearly $30, which was the eleventh-most expensive in the league at the time.

With Kansas City’s World Series victory over the New York Mets, it will be interesting to see if this is something that will help the franchise for many years or if it is something that is short-lived like it has been for other teams like the Rays.  World Series appearances help generate team popularity and fan engagement while also helping with immediate revenue growth, but what remains important for continued success is consistency.  

The Kansas City Royals celebrate after defeating the New York Mets 7-2 to win the World Series in New York on Monday, November 2.

Photo credit: CNN

Comparing Sponsorship Impact for Major U.S. Sports Leagues Part 2

Navigate Research - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Written by Matt Balvanz

Blog Series:  Comparing Sponsorship Impact for Major U.S. Sports Leagues
Focus:  Driving Awareness 

Over the next several months, we will continue to reveal analytical insights surrounding the effectiveness and impact of sponsorships across the major sports leagues in the US (i.e., NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS). These insights will focus on metrics such as awareness, consideration, likelihood to recommend, and a handful of others. This post will focus on awareness, and the best performing leagues in driving the needle for this metric.

According to research conducted by Navigate, MLS is the best platform for driving sponsorship awareness. So, when asked on an aided (provided a list of possible sponsors) or an unaided (asked to name the sponsor of a specific industry) basis, MLS fans identify sponsors correctly more often than any other league’s fans. In fact, MLS sponsorship awareness outperforms all other leagues by 10-20 percentage points.

However, when it comes to driving awareness among non-fans, the NHL and the NFL are the best performing leagues. It is important to understand the baseline level of awareness when conducting primary market research, so that true sponsorship impact can be evaluated in isolation. So, in the case of the NHL and the NFL, sponsorships have the largest head start, as 32% of non-fans are aware of the average sponsors of these leagues.

Lastly, when isolating the lift in awareness between fans and non-fans, MLS outperforms all other leagues by a wide margin. On average, MLS fans are over 2x as likely to be aware of sponsorships as non-fans. Other leagues drive awareness at a rate of 1.5x – 1.7x.

So, to quickly summarize the best performers of impacting purchase intent among the major US sports leagues:

  • MLS – Best at Driving Awareness among Fans
  • NHL and NFL – Best at Driving Awareness among Non-Fans
  • MLS – Best at Increasing Awareness between Fans and Non-Fans

For more detailed impact metrics across leagues or consultation on how to improve purchase influence for your sponsorships, please contact Navigate Research.


T-Mobile's Promotion at MLB All-Star Game Offers Fans Big Benefits

Navigate Research - Monday, July 13, 2015

T-Mobile is coming out as the first-ever presenting sponsor of the MLB All-Star Game and launching a promotion that could give a total of $5 million to MLB fans. The promo boosts T-Mobile’s “Mobile Without Borders” initiative, which allows customers to use their phone in Canada and Mexico without extra fees. In order to get the chance to win a $500 travel voucher to Canada or Mexico, fans need to tweet a prediction of which MLB All-Star participant will hit a 3-Run Home Run while using the hashtags “#3for1HomeRun” and “#sweepstakes.” As soon as a 3-Run Home Run is hit, T-Mobile with randomly chose 10,000 fans who tweeted their guesses and award them their prize. Held entirely on social media, this sweepstakes offers MLB fans a chance to win big.


Photo from

Chevy Continues with One of the Best Branded Content Plays

Navigate Research - Monday, July 13, 2015

Chevrolet is continuing to hit marketing grand slams as they preserve one of the best branded content plays for the MLB All-Star Game. Tuesday’s red carpet parade will feature the MLB All-Star Game participants as they each ride in a separate Chevrolet vehicle to the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. The All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Chevrolet also allows fans to vote for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player through and Twitter. The lucky All-Star Game MVP will drive off in his choice of a Gen 6 Camaro Convertible or the Silverado Midnight Edition.