A local approach is a home run for live sports

Sep 24th, 2020

Written by Ampersand Marketing

September 10th was a historic day in modern live sports broadcasting.  On that day, per the Elias Sports Bureau, the 6 U.S. professional sports leagues were all in action on the same day for the first time ever—the NHL, NFL, MLB, MLS, NBA, and WNBA all had live games on TV.

This was a dream scenario for fans, broadcasters, and advertisers alike; one that seemed nearly impossible just a few months ago.  But in the interim, MLB safely navigated its season with just a couple hiccups and is now on the verge of launching its postseason next week.  The NBA arguably has been the model league in terms of navigating Covid-19 with its innovative Orlando playoffs bubble approach.

The menu of live sports content is arguably as varied and rich during the pandemic as it has ever been, which presents brands an unexpected opportunity to builder greater engagement with their core audiences.  In order for brands to truly maximize the current moment to grow engagement, they must make ad creative testing a central element in their approach to strengthen and fine-tune ongoing brand narratives with their local sports communities.

While the habits of live sports viewers may vary, the importance of Regional Sports Networks remains strong. Whether you’re targeting an audience on a home team regional network or following it to alternative programming on other highly indexing networks for a given demo, the opportunities to reach sports fans at high engagement has never been greater.

The latest viewership insights have shown us that no matter how well, or how not so hot, teams are doing, or how much variety of sports programming is available, fans remain loyal and keep coming back to their home teams and networks. An MLB team not competing for a playoff spot like the Baltimore Orioles, which is televised on regional sports networks MASN/MASN2 (P25-54 Avg. Rating 1.45), have seen a 795% spike in viewership compared to nationally televised MLB games this season (P25-54 Avg. Rating 0.16)*. It’s safe to say that the passion for sports is as powerful as it’s ever been, and geography and community are cornerstones of this passion. , It is through this national/local dichotomy that  brands should operate.

An audience-first approach enables brands to do just that,  in the current live sports landscape.

*Source: Nielsen NLTV L+SD MASN/MASN2 vs. ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, TBS, MLBN 7/22-9/8/20