Sports are a good way to reach affluent consumers, according to Nielsen's review of 2010 professional sports popularity and marketing activity. It is also a good way to reach mobile-media mavens. The firm found that visits to pro-sports sites by mobile Internet users was up 38% last year versus 2009 and that 84% of iPhone app downloaders have downloaded at least one free sports app.
Events last year that garnered the most Internet messages were dominated by the NFL, and NBA, with the beginning of the NFL 2010 season getting the most online buzz, followed by the beginning of the NBA season, LeBron James defecting to the Miami Heat last summer and the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV win. Last year's Super Bowl, with 106.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen stats, became the most-watched telecast of all time, besting the series finale of "M*A*S*H." Nielsen says a big jump in ethnic viewers drove the increase with 8.3 million viewers having been among Hispanic households, a 9% jump, and 11.2 million among African American households, a 4% jump.
Nielsen 2010 media stats show that the World Series, Super Bowl, NCAA Basketball Championships, U.S. Open Men's Final, The Masters, Stanley Cup, Kentucky Derby, World Cup Final and BCS National Championship over-index for people who belong to families with over $100,000 annual income.
In the over 40,500 hours of live sporting events broadcast last year, the most-recalled, sports-themed advertisement was Subway's 15-second spot showing Olympics swimmer Michael Phelps swimming through pavement because of the power of his favorite sandwich. After that came Taco Bell, then a 30-second version of the winning Michael Phelps ad, then an ad for Jack Link's Beef Jerkey and, finally, an ad for Long John Silver.
Nielsen also came up with the best athletes in each sport for brand spokesperson effectiveness. The firm partnered with E-Poll Market Research to produce what it calls an "N-Score" for each athlete, gauging their overall "endorsement potential." Nielsen says the score factors in awareness, appeal, and 46 personality attributes.
Based on those parameters, Venus Williams was tapped by Nielsen as the "most effective endorser" among female athletes. Shaun White gets the top score among male athletes and Nielsen gave Terry Bradshaw the nod as most effective among sports commentators. Next among women were Lindsey Vonn, Serena Williams, Danica Patrick and Maria Sharapova. Among men White is followed by Shaquille O'Neal, Apolo Ohno, Peyton Manning and Michael Phelps.
Nielsen says that within the NBA, the most effective endorsers are Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Yao Ming and Steve Nash. For the NFL, the top endorsers are Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Donovan McNabb and Tim Tebow. In NASCAR, the most effective endorsers are Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Danica Patrick, Tony Stewart and Mark Martin. Nielsen found that NASCAR fans spent as much as 30% more on beer last year than fans of other sports and 25% more on non-alcoholic carbonate beverages.