Dec 26, 2019 - Technology

Soccer stars score big with Instagram

Data: Hookit; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios
Data: Hookit; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest paid athlete on Instagram, according to a study by analytics company HooperHQ, raking in more than twice what he earns from his contract with Juventus.

The big picture: The power of social media not only highlights soccer’s global reach, but also provides top athletes with another revenue stream in a sport where a single injury can end a career. In 2019, 49 sponsored Instagram posts earned Ronaldo $47.8 million, about $14.7 million more than he's paid by Juventus.

Why it matters: With their millions of followers, athletes like Ronaldo have massive reach. Companies are willing to pay upwards of $975,000 per sponsored post to get all those eyeballs on their products.

  • Brands select the athletes they want to work with based on number of followers, quality of audience, demographics and the overall look and feel of the individual's Instagram account.

Lionel Messi's contract with Barcelona is worth $92 million. He made an additional $23.3 million from Instagram sponsorships, positioning him as the highest-paid soccer player in 2019.

  • Ronaldo and Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar are the only athletes among the top 10 highest-paid social media personalities across any field, per HooperHQ.
  • Between sponsorships, contracts and all other revenue streams, Ronaldo made $108.2 million in 2019, while Neymar made $96.2 million.

Posts with the highest engagement and total potential brand value, per Hookit:

  • Messi's paid partnership with Pepsi has a potential brand value of $4.6 million on Instagram.
  • Ronaldo's video of him training in Nike and Sagres gear has a potential brand value of $3.7 million.
  • Neymar's video featuring him and São Paulo FC player Dani Alves dancing in Jordan Brand shorts has a potential brand value of $1.9 million.
  • Real Madrid's Marcelo Vieira's footage in an Adidas store has a potential brand value of about $809,000.
  • Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos' video training in a jersey with the Emirates Airline logo has a potential brand value of about $731,000.

Worth noting: Not all of these posts are sponsored or paid for, but the mere association with a soccer star has the potential to generate millions of dollars in brand value just because millions of people view the post.

How much soccer players earn per Instagram post, according to HopperHQ.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo: $975,000
  • Neymar da Silva Santos Jr: $722,000
  • Leo Messi: $648,000
  • David Beckham: $357,000
  • Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (Ronaldinho): $256,000
  • Gareth Bale: $218,000
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic: $200,000

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