A Chicago-based company that overlays ads on the sports broadcasts seen on screens in bars has signed a deal it believes will allow it to exponentially increase distribution. The ads come in an L-bar shape and take up about 30% of the screen, highlighting Major League Baseball or NFL games, whether carried on ESPN or NBC.
The out-of-home venture carries the SportScape moniker and has been in about 100 bars until now. This latest agreement with Des Moines-based Rivals Media expects to ramp it up and add perhaps 1,000 bars a month.
SportScape promises to have a presence in each city with an NFL team by the time the season kicks off this fall. The company says viewers in sports bars generally watch live games for an average of 105 minutes per visit.
Rivals have deep relationships with bars, providing them with jukeboxes, video games and the like. A separate deal with out-of-home network provider California-based TargetCast will help SportScape (run by OnSite Sports) improve the technology to support its network.
There is an undisclosed revenue-sharing relationship between the three partners. SportScape is supported by private-equity investors.
Part of the allure of the L-bar system (which targets men in the 21-to-45 demo) is the opportunity for a bar to plug its offerings on the screen, such as two-for-one nights or darts tournaments. SportScape delivers ads customized at the individual bar level; bars across the street from one another can have different creative.
The bars receive 18 minutes an hour to use. They can build their own creative through an online tool that SportScape provides and run a wheel of perhaps 12 to 15 executions an hour.
Another 18 minutes per hour is inventory sold by OnSite, which has a three-person sales team and out-of-home video advertising aggregators, such as SeeSaw Networks. To date, advertisers have included Jim Beam, Miller and General Motors. There is no revenue-sharing with the bars. The system could be a cost-effective way for an advertiser to link with top-tier sports programming.
While ads do not include video -- to avoid distracting from the sports events -- Flash technology can be employed, with animation an option. And photos are used widely.
A third 18-minute block in an hour includes content produced by OnSite -- mostly text, although not necessarily news -- to provoke conversation and debate. The content is targeted locally, so Chicago fans may receive opinions about the Cubs' struggles
The final six minutes an hour is inventory that OnSite provides gratis to local non-profit agencies.
SportScape says: "There is never any disruption of the selected TV programming [and] research shows that highly targeted digital message management delivered in this way is hard to ignore ..."