Fans Will Be Absent When Professional Sports Return, But Which Advertisers Will Show Up?

Restarting sports leagues at perhaps one city, one location settings to conclude their respective seasons-- such as the NBA and the NHL -- will have some perception issues for TV viewers and possible TV advertisers.

No fans in attendance due to COVID-19 will mean a lack of cheering, excitement and noise.

TV advertisers go into a new scenario having pandemic-related issues. Production of products, including autos, slowed down in a big way since the beginning of March. Restaurants closed and many still are closed, as stay-at-home orders are slowly lifted.

First up looks to be the NBA coming next month to Florida to complete its season. Reports say an abridged regular season and playoff game schedule will be played at Walt Disney’s World Resort, at the massive ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, which is more than twice the size of Manhattan, according to estimates.  



The NHL and Major League Baseball are also looking at a centralized, one-city/perhaps one-location facility to complete their seasons.

What kind of TV entertainment will this produce? Perhaps too much of the same thing on one level.

And does this mean lower commercial pricing? Supply-and-demand considerations will determine this. Some TV advertisers are not likely to return in a big way for national (or regional) TV sports events.

National TV sales executives are positive that one of the biggest sports TV ad categories -- automotive marketers -- might not be dinged as much as previously thought. With the new car season starting (typically in September), there will be a push to find TV media dollars for marketers.

The fall sees the NFL -- the best national TV viewership of any sport -- coming back virtually unscathed by COVID-19 issues -- although the prospect of empty stadiums is a possibility.

To get a look at where things have been -- pre-COVID-19 -- analyze the activity for the NBA’s top national TV marketers so far (October through mid-March), according to

State Farm ($23 million); Taco Bell ($13.3 million); Metro by T-Mobile ($12.6 million); Toyota ($11.7 million); and GEICO ($11.6 million); Sony Playstation ($10.1 million); Burger King ($10.0 million); Mountain Dew ($9.9 million) Nissan ($9.0 million) and Cricket Wireless ($8.9 million).

Who needs engaging and excited fans in arenas/stadiums to make TV sports viewers excited to buy stuff? Anyone? No one?

3 comments about "Fans Will Be Absent When Professional Sports Return, But Which Advertisers Will Show Up?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 4, 2020 at 1:40 p.m.

    What the leagues might try, Wayne, is to simulate the missing crowds, using old footage, sound tracks, etc. just like many TV sitcoms do. New VR techniques should make this an interesting possibility. Then, when an egotistical player who scores a TD wants to beat his chest, dance and otherwise promote himself as "the man",TV  audiences will see cheering crowds ---not empty stands.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, June 4, 2020 at 6:56 p.m.

    Ed, Channel Nine here is already doing it.

    Our National Rugby League (NRL) re-started the competition two weeks ago.   Games are played with one referee and the usual complement of players on the field.   Replacement players are on the side-line and adhering to social distancing rules.   Medical and sports medics are allowed on the field to treat injuries.

    But there is no crowd.    Though there has been an 'outbreak' of fans paying to put a poster on a seat in a grandstand.   No, I'm not kidding.

    Channel Nine went back through their old coverage and have pulled the audio from their vaults and edited them into a 'library' of sounds and effects which are inserted under the commentary.   It is less distracting and less noticeable than I thought it would have been.

    I suspect it will be replicated for the Australian Football League (AFL) when it resumes next weekend.   The difference is AFL has more 'chanting' by the fans, but I suppose it will just become another part of their arsenal in the audio library.

  3. Frank Anthony from Self, June 5, 2020 at 1:54 a.m.

    The German Bundesliga...that's the German soccer league for you old timers who think soccer is a communist sport...has done a good job of playing recordings of the chants the crowd would normally sing at a game with full attendance.  While to the eye it's still odd, it drowns out the unusual sounds you're hearing of players that you normally wouldn't with a full stadium.  I like it.  

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