Not everything went to plan in Australia but the Commonwealth Games took a step forward on the Gold Coast. It provided a high profile competitive opportunity for thousands of athletes, showcased several sports that struggle for media exposure and – for the most part – presented the Gold Coast in a positive light.
It’s important not to overstate the impact – very few of the audience will have been exposed to all 18 sports, let alone the 275 events within them – but 40% of UK respondents say there are some sports they only watch as part of the Commonwealth Games and nearly 60% recognise it as a platform for bringing smaller sports to the attention of a TV audience.
From a sporting point of view, netball was the biggest winner. England’s dramatic victories in the semi-final and final provided critical mainstream UK media exposure for a sport not on the programme of the Olympic Games.
Netball will hope to carry this momentum through to a home World Cup in Liverpool next year. Despite strong youth participation, adult interest in netball in the UK is lower than for sports such as badminton and triathlon which will both benefit from an Olympic boost in 2020 so this is an important window of opportunity for the sport.
As a replacement host for Durban, Birmingham has been given less time than usual to prepare for the next Games but this may work in the city’s favour, with a greater emphasis on using existing infrastructure and resources.
There is work to be done – around a third of the UK population are interested in the Commonwealth Games and at present only a similar proportion (34%) are aware that Birmingham will be hosting the 2022 event.
Expectations will also need to be managed. The event presents an opportunity to influence what people think about a host city, with 29% of viewers agreeing the event has changed their perceptions, but this needs to be tempered by the understanding that only one in four (26%) say they are more likely to visit after watching the event.
The good news is that the Commonwealth Games seems to be finding a place for itself that complements other sports events and over half of adults (54%) like the variety of sports at the Games.
Birmingham 2022 will be the biggest gathering of international athletes on English soil since London 2012 and we will be keeping a close eye on these and many more metrics in the build-up to the event.
The above data comes from Nielsen’s Sponsorlink syndicated research tool. Sponsorlink runs weekly surveying 250 people a week, aged between 16-74. The survey focuses on the domestic sponsorship environment, key sports, events and activities.