CBS Is King Of The Mountain In 2013

In the age of DVRs and On-Demand viewing, sports are quickly becoming the last live drama on television. Great games are something that must be watched in real-time. What would the drama of a March Madness buzzer-beater mean on tape-delay? 

So the networks continue to fight over broadcast rights to the keystone sports events. CBS is already the most-watched network in America, and, with an enviable string of high-profile sports events during the first quarter of 2013, they will build on their lead. 

If you’re looking to integrate your brands into these showcase sports moments, read the below. Then prepare to 1) Start early, 2) Integrate across screens, 3) “Steal” mindshare and, finally, 4) Pray for great storylines and match-ups.

Super Bowl

CBS won 108.4 million viewers for the Ravens-49ers Super Bowl, good for a 46.3 Nielsen rating. The network also claims a record 164.1 million people watched all or partof the telecast for at least six minutes. This measurement is up 3% from 159.2 million people a year ago, according to Reuters. 

So, did it goose ratings? According to TV by the Numbers, CBS had eight of the top 10 and 15 of the top 20 programs of the week - all boosted by a Super Bowl that was the third most-viewed telecast in U.S. history.

NCAA Tournament

Sports fans won’t have to wait long for CBS’ next showcase, as March Madness is only a few weeks away. Last year saw 20.9 million viewers (a 4% increase from 2011).

The NCAA basketball tournament is jointly produced by CBS Sports and Turner Sports, with coverage airing on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV. The regular season and conference tournament coverage is produced by CBS alone.

The Masters

In the best sports pivot each spring, CBS is able to roll from NCAA Final Four coverage right into golf’s gem: the Masters Tournament. 

Augusta National Golf Club has chosen CBS as its U.S. broadcast partner in a long string of one-year contracts. Due to the lack of long-term contractual security, it is widely held that CBS allows Augusta National greater control over the content of the broadcast. 

Either way, the Masters offers screen-saver quality beauty and great sports drama. Bully for CBS, with another 10.0 rating in its sights. 

Learnings for Marketers

Advertisers looking to integrate into one of these crown jewel properties should heed some advice:

1) Start early. Begin conversations as early as possible (e.g., a year out) to allow lots of lead time for the best chance of a meaningful presence. 

2) Integrate. Prepare for bundle buying, as these sought-after sports events sell for premium pricing. The network will force a vertical bundled buy across their digital and on-air properties. So make sure your creative has legs. 

3) Steal mindshare. We saw great examples of this from Beats by Dre and Nike around the London Olympics. If you get creative, you can hijack mindshare without paying full freight. Consider activating influencers and blitzing earned media channels, as opposed to a formal buy. 

4) Pray for great storylines and match-ups! Nothing generates eyeballs like two brothers facing each other in the Super Bowl, or Butler’s Cinderella challenging Duke’s royalty in the NCAA title game. This, of course, can’t be controlled, but with some sports marketing expertise and a “long lens,” you may be able to diagnose a great sports story before it unfolds. 

We do know this much at least: for the next few months, sports fans can put away their remote controls and keep it tuned to CBS.

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