Paul Pogba named world’s most marketable athlete of 2018

SportsPro has never laid any claims to objectivity when compiling its annual list of the world’s 50 most marketable athletes. That is probably for the best.

Calculating marketability is undoubtedly an inexact science, one that relies on no small amount of informed guesswork and, increasingly, a complex and highly unpredictable array of contributing factors.

Though many faces - from bonafide greats to overhyped underachievers - have come and gone over the years, SportsPro’s criteria has remained unchanged since the conception of the list in 2010. Each summer, athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over the coming three-year period, with particular emphasis placed on value for money, age, home market, charisma, willingness to be marketed and crossover appeal. Now, however, we’ve sought to bring a degree of science to the art of assessing athlete marketability.

Thanks to analytical data and advanced social media monitoring tools provided by Hookit, SportsPro’s official data partner, the composition of this year’s list has been informed by an all-new criteria: the Hookit Marketability Score. You can find a full explanation of how Hookit created the score here, but in short, scored out of 100, this unique and exclusive index goes beyond overall reach and easy-to-calculate social follower counts to provide a more accurate measure of an athlete’s engagement rates across their promoted posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. 

The creation of the Hookit Marketability Score is, at least in part, recognition of the growing importance of social media for brand marketers who seek influential voices to promote their products and services, and who desire to spend their budgets partnering with authentic online ambassadors.

All told, the Hookit Marketability Score speaks to where entertainment in general is headed. The changing nature of media consumption has driven audiences, particularly those who skew younger and more tech-savvy, towards a growing number of digital platforms and services, leading many brands to follow suit. Sport is no exception.

Yet even in these changing times, some things remain just as they’ve always been. While this year’s class features a fresh intake of 18 new entries and a single re-entry, Americans continue to dominate with no fewer than 21 spots. Moreover, soccer once again provides ten entries, the most of any sport, and the number of women on the list continues to lag behind the men, this time by 15 to 35. The average age stands at just under 24 years old, with the usual mix of emerging talent and established stars.

Many of the athletes in this year’s list will have a shot at glory at those marquee occasions and their representatives will not want to miss the commercial opportunities that arise as a result. Who knows, some of the less heralded names may even go on to vindicate their selection in this ranking. Whatever happens, though, these names are the 50 athletes to invest in now.