Even with no fans in the stands, TV buyers must be audience-first

Sep 10th, 2020

Written by Ampersand Marketing

Even without the excitement and emotion of  live audiences, the NBA, MLB and NHL collectively accounted for over 100 million total impressions since they restarted in June.*As major sports continue to ramp back up, brands need to view their live sports investments through a more creative and flexible lens. Why? Although the state of live sports continues to evolve, advertisers can still reach their intended audiences. MLB has had to navigate disruptions to its broadcasting schedules with multiple work stoppages due to Covid-19 outbreaks within certain teams.  Most recently, the NBA playoffs paused its schedule in solidarity for social justice. And on the eve of the NFL season, with the end result unknown, it is important to have an adaptable, audience-first approach to skillfully navigate the twists and turns that await every marketer.

Nevertheless, the overall success of the NBA’s Orlando “bubble” approach, which the United States Tennis Association is replicating with the U.S. Open in New York, offers plenty of hope.  It’s shown to be a workable model for how major sports can remain a bedrock of consumer viewing and advertiser reach.  

Major brands are partnering with Ampersand to  leverage our audience-first, consultative approach.  Ampersand’s expanded Viewer Segments include “heavy ESPN viewers,” for example. This is an audience that may seem more elusive with the uncertainty and limitations that all live sports programming is facing, but now brands can still reach legacy sports audiences with multimarket live sports investments in an alternative and efficient way. Sports fanatics aren’t disappearing – they’re just watching alternative programming when live sports aren’t on.

If a brand truly knows its audiences, it can find them in unexpected places including niche networks like the Outdoor Channel or on top news and entertainment networks like CNN, FXNC and TBSC. Audience-first also means multiscreen TV buying that can target your sports lovers on both linear and streaming TV.  Although there are no fans in the stands, brands can stay in the live sports arena with the same commitment, just with an adapted and creative approach. 

*Source: Nielsen Local TV View Household Impressions Live+SD (7/18/20-8/16/20); MLB, NBA, NHL live games on cable