Feb 10, 2016 by Media Solutions Category: Blog 0 comments


The Power of Live Sports

I bet most of you can name one program that was televised on Sunday February 7, 2016: Super Bowl 50!

Did you notice that for the first time, the Super Bowl wasn’t branded in Roman Numerals? Last year was Super Bowl XLIX, this year’s should have been Super Bowl L. But it was not branded Super Bowl L, it was branded as Super Bowl 50. If you caught this, you might be asking “Why?”

The NFL dropped the Roman numerals this year as part of its year-long celebration of The Super Bowl’s historic 50th anniversary. It’s also in gold, which is traditionally used to represent 50th year anniversaries. Branding is an integral part of business strategy, and how you brand can be meaningless unless you consider where you brand.

The Super Bowl draws in massive audiences that range from hardcore NFL fans to casual “once-a-year” observers.  It’s the biggest sporting event in the country, and it carries the highest advertising prices. A cool $5 million was spent this year on average for a :30 second national spot, up half a million from last year (a 11% increase).

Last year, around 114.4 million people tuned into the game. Is it worth it? Should you recommend this to your clients? One spot in the Big Game or annual partnerships with sports franchises? How do you know which road to go down? Research! More research! Then negotiations!

One thing we do know is that sports viewership has changed dramatically over the years. Sports and News are the two pieces of programming that we can generally count on for live audiences. 93% of the top 100 programs that were live in 2015 were sports according to Nielsen.

Viewership numbers have grown along with the number of broadcast hours (in 2015 there were 127,000 hours). Televised sports has expanded and opened up more avenues for us to build our clients’ branding. Five years ago, few soccer games were televised on general market stations; you only found them if you tuned to Hispanic stations.  Now, Sacramento has a minor league soccer team that has exploded with huge fan turnouts and excitement, and has even put in a bid for a Major League Soccer franchise! We also have the Sacramento Kings with a brand new arena being built (they’re here to stay!), the 49ers down the road in their shiny new stadium, the Raiders, the Giants, the A’s, the Rivercats, the Warriors, and NASCAR – all franchises with devoted fan bases in the area.

If you’re still wondering how valuable a huge sports market can be, consider this:

Nielsen reports that live sports make up 0.25% of TV programming but 50% of television-based interactions on Twitter. People are watching, and they’re doing so attentively. So, even if you can’t afford a spot in the Super Bowl (few can), there is plentiful opportunity to showcase your brand where and when people are watching.

The first two “Super Bowls” were called the “World Championship Game”, so is this really the 50th year or the 48th? I’ll let you decide for yourselves.


Are you curious about the best way to include sports programming into your media strategy? Send us a message or an e-mail, and we’ll get back to you with the latest research and our recommendations!


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