For immediate release
Wednesday 20th May 2015
- Canadian tennis player succeeds Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton as most marketable athlete and is the first female athlete to top the list
- Brazil and Barcelona soccer star Neymar ranked second; US golfer Jordan Spieth in third
- Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori is the highest new entry
21-year-old Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard has been ranked as the most marketable athlete on the planet by SportsPro magazine.
The rising WTA star, who enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2014, reaching two Grand Slam semi-finals and the Wimbledon final, topped the sixth annual SportsPro 50 Most Marketable Athletes list (#SP50MM).
The full list, featuring full commercial profiles of each athlete, is published today at www.sportspromedia.com. The June edition of SportsPro magazine, out next week, delves into the story behind the marketing push propelling Bouchard and her fellow female athletes to increased commercial prominence.
Brazilian soccer player Neymar, already a two-time topper of the list, was ranked second, while 21-year-old golf sensation Jordan Spieth came in third. Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori was the highest new entry on the list, which focuses on marketing potential over the next three years.
Athletes across the world were ranked against criteria including age, home market, charisma, willingness to be marketed and crossover appeal, following several weeks of analysis by the SportsPro team and external industry experts.
Bouchard, winner of the WTA’s Most Improved Player award for the 2014 season, replaces Lewis Hamilton at the head of the list. The Mercedes driver led the rankings last year, but drops to fifth in 2015. Neymar took the number one spot in 2012 and 2013; Olympic champion Usain Bolt headed the list in 2011, while NBA star LeBron James was named as the world’s most marketable athlete in the feature’s inaugural year in 2010.
SportsPro editorial director James Emmett said: “As ever, these rankings are not about pinpointing the most commercially valuable athlete in the world today, but rather they are an attempt to identify marketing potential over the next three years. Genie Bouchard has struggled on the court since a standout season in 2014. But she has time on her side, and all the attributes needed to succeed Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams as the face of the most commercially successful women’s sport on the planet.”
Emmett added: “There is debate every year about who does and doesn’t make the list. Our underlying mission is always in identifying athlete marketing bets for the mid-term future. In other words, if you were a sponsor, which athletes are going to provide value for your marketing money, and help build your brand over the next three years? We’re finding the commercial stars of tomorrow, and they are not necessarily the commercial stars of today.”
SportsPro editor Eoin Connolly said: “Eugenie Bouchard showed in 2014 that she is an athlete of tremendous potential who is able to make a real connection with her fans. The last few months have not gone as she might have hoped but we think her achievements so far are those of a player of substance who will make her mark at the top end of women’s tennis over the next three years. Not only that, but she has also attracted a lot of attention outside her sport and looks likely to be a genuine crossover star.
“It’s no secret that women’s sport is underrepresented commercially and in the media, and addressing that discrepancy is something that a lot of people are very serious about. Things will change. The WTA has a strong history of taking on inequality – it was founded on those principles – and as a figurehead for women’s tennis, Bouchard can be a big part of that story.”
Missy Franklin, the US swimmer set to be NBC’s face of the Rio Olympics next year, was the next highest ranked female athlete on the list at number four.
This year’s list includes 12 women. Soccer and tennis are represented by the most athletes, with six each, followed by golf and motorsport, with five each. There are four basketball players in the top 50, while American football provides three names. 22 sports are represented in total, including, for the first time, snooker and equestrianism.
25-year-old Kei Nishikori, already the most successful Japanese tennis player in history after reaching the US Open final last year, heads 24 new entries. Newcomers include New Zealand golfer Lydia Ko, French soccer international Paul Pogba, and American football sensation Odell Beckham Jr.
In total, there are 18 Americans on the list, six Britons, and two athletes each from Brazil, Canada, India, and Ireland. 24 nations are represented in all.
SportsPro: The World’s 50 Most Marketable Athletes 2015 – the top ten
1) Eugenie Bouchard – Tennis, Canada
2) Neymar – Soccer, Brazil
3) Jordan Spieth – Golf, USA
4) Missy Franklin – Swimming, USA
5) Lewis Hamilton – Motorsport, Great Britain
6) Virat Kohli – Cricket, India
7) Stephen Curry – Basketball, USA
8) Kei Nishikori – Tennis, Japan
9) Katarina Johnson-Thompson – Athletics, Great Britain
10) Usain Bolt – Athletics, Jamaica
The full list of the World’s 50 Most Marketable Athletes, plus comprehensive commercial analysis of each and every athlete, detailing their inclusion on this year’s list and explaining their ranking, is available online now at www.sportspromedia.com/most_marketable.
The June edition of SportsPro magazine features additional coverage. To subscribe, please visit www.sportspromedia.com/shop
Notes to editors:
Formed in 2008 in London, SportsPro is the leading sports business media company in print, digital and events. SportsPro magazine is a monthly publication dedicated to in-depth analysis, interviews, features and comment from the global sports industry, and sportspromedia.com is the industry-leading online resource for sponsorship, broadcast, personal endorsement and agency deals. The SportsPro app is available now and compatible with both Apple and Android. SportsPro organises several annual sports industry conferences, including SportsPro Live, and The Brand Conference.
Follow SportsPro on Twitter: @SportsPro and use #SP50MM.
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