- The National Football League has named Horizon Media as its global agency of record for strategy, planning, activation and measurement, according to information shared with Marketing Dive.
- The agency will lead the league’s paid media and partner with the league for paid and owned asset optimization. Horizon will use its proprietary data platform, blu, to develop consumer insights and develop personalized marketing campaigns.
- The assignment, which came after a six-month review led by Melissa Lea of Muster Consulting, comes as the league is looking to expand its global footprint and influence, and as the relationship between sporting leagues and fans is in flux.
The NFL business is a big feather in Horizon Media’s cap and further bolsters the agency’s recent moves in the sports marketing arena. Last year, the agency created Horizon Sports & Experiences, which merged Horizon’s sports and entertainment marketing and Web3 units to provide functions including intellectual property creation, media rights management and sponsorship deals to bridge digital channels with real life.
“As we continue to refine our approach to fan development and engagement, we were looking for a partner to help us combine the intelligent use of data-driven media activations with our best-in-class storytelling,” said Dave Bolger, the NFL’s vice president of consumer media, in a statement. “[Horizon’s] fan-first planning approach, coupled with their impressive capabilities across the media landscape, will surely help us bolster our efforts to grow fandom and NFL affinity around the globe.”
Sports leagues around the world are looking for advantages as viewers increasingly adopt online viewing habits, and give their attention to newer offerings like e-sports and pickleball. Several leagues have struck deals with streaming companies, including the NFL, which shifted its “Thursday Night Football'' programming to Amazon Prime, and Apple TV+, which is the home to Major League Soccer.
The NFL last December announced a multi-year agreement to bring its NFL Sunday Ticket to YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime channels starting this season. The program had previously been at DirecTV, and with the shift, YouTube promised new features and functionality for viewers. The deal also included a new NFL International show and creator program, which Horizon noted it would be deeply involved with. The NFL also launched the NFL Zone as a permanent feature in Fortnite Creative, to attract more young fans to the sport.
This shifting relationship between sports leagues and fans requires new sets of expertise and insights, which not only led to the creation of HS&E, but also was a major factor in the agency landing Entertainment, the National Basketball Association’s marketing and production arm, as its first client.