International soccer icon Lionel Messi has been named as the world’s most marketable athlete for 2020.
The Barcelona forward and six-time Ballon d’Or winner narrowly edges out fellow soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo to take top spot in SportsPro’s 2020 list of the World’s 50 Most Marketable Athletes powered by Nielsen.
American basketball great LeBron James, Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli and Canadian tennis player Bianca Andreescu round out this year’s top five, with the latter named as the top-ranked female athlete.
This year’s 50 Most Marketable (50MM) Athletes list is powered by Nielsen’s proprietary athlete marketability assessment methodology.
Called the Influencer Selection and Measurement Framework, the methodology draws on vast amounts of social media data to generate an Athlete Influencer Score comprising four key data points: relevance, reach, return, and resonance.
Designed to accurately monitor social campaign effectiveness and help sponsors maximise impact, Nielsen’s Influencer Selection and Measurement Framework incorporates a range of performance and sponsorship-related KPIs, such as social following, content engagement, fanbase growth over time, media value, and the performance of branded versus organic content.
Under the framework, the Instagram accounts for over 6,000 athletes from 21 sports were tracked over the last 12 months.
Now in its 11th year, SportsPro’s 50MM platform enables sports marketers to make sponsorship decisions more quickly and intelligently than ever by objectively assessing where true value lies in sports marketing through the application of in-depth data analysis, social media monitoring, and consumer insights.
Focused on athletes only since their inception in 2010, the global rankings have been expanded for the first time to include separate top 50 lists for brands and properties, including leagues, teams, governing bodies and major events across the globe.
The 2020 list of the World’s 50 Most Marketable Athletes powered by Nielsen has been released in full today via a dedicated 50MM content hub containing interactive tables and graphics, individual commercial profiles, features, podcasts and more.
Inaugural rankings for the World’s 50 Most Marketed Brands powered by Hookit and the World’s 50 Most Marketable Properties powered by SponsorPulse will be released on Monday 5th October and Monday 12th October respectively.
“Supported by three leading data companies, our newly expanded 50MM platform and dedicated content hub paints the most complete picture yet of where value lies in sports marketing - across athletes, brands and properties,” said Michael Long, SportsPro’s Editorial Director.
“With marketing budgets being tightened in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, spending on sports sponsorship is being more scrutinised than ever. Now, with the richer data sets and deeper insights provided by this year’s 50MM rankings, marketers working across all sports can easily identify where the real value lies in order to justify their spending decisions and maximise return on investment.”
Salvatore De Angelis, Head of Digital at Nielsen Sports International, added: “The heavy usage of social media among today's digital-savvy generation has led to a massive content creation boom. Nielsen’s proprietary methodology enables unique insights into how athlete influencer content resonates with target audiences. By powering SportsPro’s 50MM list, we’re able to help brands better understand campaign effectiveness and how to maximise impact across campaigns.”
To view the full list of the World’s 50 Most Marketable Athletes powered by Nielsen, head over to SportsPro’s dedicated 50MM content hub and join in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #SP50MM.
The list will also be explored in depth during the next SportsPro Insider Series virtual conference, titled ‘Athletes in Business’, on Wednesday 30th September. Register to access the event here.
World’s 50 Most Marketable Athletes powered by Nielsen - the top ten:
1. Lionel Messi - Argentinian, 33, Soccer
2. Cristiano Ronaldo - Portuguese, 35, Soccer
3. LeBron James - American, 35, Basketball
4. Virat Kohli - Indian, 31, Cricket
5. Bianca Andreescu - Canadian, 20, Tennis
6. Neymar Jr - Brazilian, 28, Soccer
7. Khabib Nurmagomedov - Russian, 32, MMA
8. Rohit Sharma - Indian, 33, Cricket
9. Mohamed Salah - Egyptian, 28, Soccer
10. Paulo Dybala - Argentinian, 26, Soccer
BDST: 1958 HRS, SEP 29, 2020