Got brand goals? The four most marketable sports of 2019

Andrew Montesi Pickstar

Head of marketing at Pickstar, Andrew Montesi. Source: Supplied.

The Australian sporting landscape is shifting and emerging sports are expected to take a greater share marketing dollars in 2019.

While major sports such as AFL, NRL and cricket are typically the ‘tried-and-true’ sponsorship options for the big brands, there are huge marketing opportunities with a range of other sports that have momentum and an exciting calendar ahead over the next 12 months.  

If you’re a marketer or business leader looking to align your brand with athletes, here are the sports you should consider investing in.


  • Millennial audience
  • Global reach
  • Early-stage opportunity

It’s the sport traditionalists are still trying to make sense of, but it’s here to stay.

For those that don’t know about eSports, put simply, it is the professional play of competitive digital games. And it is serious business. The eSports market is reportedly valued at about $1 billion globally, with 165 million enthusiast fans and 215 million occasional viewers. In 2018, the League of Legends World Championship Finals alone attracted a staggering 99.6 million unique viewers across the world.

These audiences are made up of the lucrative 18–34-years-old demographic, a typically hard-to-reach group for advertisers, making eSports an exciting prospect for marketers.

The Australian eSports industry is still in its infancy, with an estimated 1.5 million ‘fanatics’, but this is giving brands the rare opportunity to partner with a sport on the ground floor. The Oceanic Pro League (OPL) is one to watch in particular, with a global pathway and traditional sports, including the AFL’s Adelaide Crows and Essendon Bombers, joining the fray.  


  • Leading women’s sport
  • Engaged community
  • Growing audiences

Netball is the dominant women’s sport in Australia, but the marketing opportunities are still yet to be fully unlocked. And these opportunities lie with the players, who are fully engaged with their fan base — whether that’s through their social media platforms or in the community.

In our experience at PickStar, netballers are among Australia’s most accessible athletes, who continue to exceed all expectations for clients, ranging from brand partners through to local schools.

The numbers are also undeniable for brands. Almost 800,000 of Australians are playing the game and there are plenty watching it too — over one million people tuned into the Suncorp Super Netball grand final in 2018.


  • A re-energised sport with momentum
  • Strong NBA ties
  • Huge participation

After years of mismanagement and underinvestment, we’re now at the beginning of an exciting era for basketball in Australia.

There is a range of factors as to why. The NBL has been re-energised under the reign of owner Larry Kestelman, who has put millions back into the game.

Larry has also helped strengthen ties with the NBA, but equally, this has been driven by the success of our Aussie basketballers in the US, with Andrew Bogut, Ben Simmons, Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and Matthew Dellavedova among the stars who have put our country on the map. This alignment is crucial from a brand perspective, because the NBA has always and will continue to be widely popular among Australian sports fans.

And this momentum will peak in 2019 when Australia’s men’s team, the Boomers, will host the USA national team in August before heading to China for the FIBA World Cup. And with about one million Australians now playing basketball, there’s never been a better time to invest in the game.  

Women’s football (The Matildas)

  • On-field success
  • Athlete role models
  • FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019

The Matildas are fast becoming Australia’s favourite national sporting team. Led by star Sam Kerr, one of the best female soccer players in the world and Young Australian of the Year 2018, the team is winning tournaments, packing stadiums, grabbing headlines and claiming the hearts of fans.

And this could be the biggest year for the Matildas yet, with the 2019 FIFA Women’s Cup to kick off mid-year, where the Aussie team has a genuine chance of winning the competition. This will see the popularity of women’s soccer in Australia continue to skyrocket.

Despite the relatively sharp rise of the Matildas on the back of on-field success, the off-field efforts of the team must be recognised too. The athletes are genuine role models for the 400,000 other female soccer players in Australia, as well as the broader community, and work incredibly hard to grow the game from grassroots to brand level. Along with their extensive audience reach and momentum leading up to the World Cup, women’s soccer and the Matildas should be top of the list for any savvy business leader looking for a strategic brand partnership.

NOW READ: AFL pros turned startup founders James Begley and Matthew Pavlich raise $1 million for corporate talent booking platform Pickstar

NOW READ: Teamwork makes the dream work: Why startups and small businesses should be partnering with athletes


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