Sports Summit: Sports Programming Scores With Advertisers

Live Sports, Digital Offerings Draw Big Audiences and Engaged Viewers, say Ad Execs
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For advertisers, high-rated, live sports programming still delivers the biggest bang for their buck in the television space, according to executives speaking Wednesday at the Sports Business & Technology Summit in New York.

“Advertisers follow the eyeballs and right now there are a lot of eyeballs for sports,” said Jon Diament, executive vice president of ad sales and marketing for Turner Sports during the panel session Framing The Pitch: Inside The Fast-Evolving World Of Sports Advertising, moderated by Broadcasting & Cable business editor Jon Lafayette. 

As technology has fragmented audiences for other programming genres, Diament said that the ratings and audience engagement for sports has remained at a high level. Kevin Collins, senior vice president and director of national broadcast for Initiative U.S., added that 99% of sports viewing is consumed live and it’s the one few programming genres that effectively draws young men.

Regional sports networks in particular provide great opportunities for advertisers to reach die-hard sports fans who tune in and stay engaged for long periods of time. “The home team fans are sitting there with a purpose and are highly engaged,” said Craig Sloan, senior vice president of national advertising sales for Home Team Sports. “Those things translates into a halo affect for our brands.” 

On the digital front, viewers are accessing sports content on second screens in record numbers and are leading the TV industry’s TV Everywhere multi-platform charge, according to CBS Interactive Advanced Media vice president and general manager Patty Hirsch.

“Sports is already a big deal online and will continue to grow … we’re starting to see a convergence of TV and digital strategies,” she said. “There’s value in bringing that content to viewers both from an advertiser and a user perspective.”

But there isn’t an unlimited amount of advertising money to go around. Executives warned that networks can’t count on advertisers to subsidized the rising costs of sports rights.

“We can’t sit back and absorb those costs … at some point we have to say no to our partners and go elsewhere,” said Collins. “Just because someone spent X billions of dollars on a property, we can’t absorb that … it has to come from somewhere else.”