Commentary

Prime-Time Non-Sports Marketers Might Bet On Sports Programming This Fall

News flash: TV viewers are hungry for anything new and familiar. This week’s midsummer, pandemic-referenced high-rated TV content: the NBA.

Concerning this -- and in the wake of question marks concerning broader prime-time entertainment for the fall -- non-sports TV marketers might be asking this question: Should we take the long-range three-point shot?

Opening viewing of the NBA games and content on TNT recorded a doubling of viewership above the average of its previous regular TV season games. That's before the pandemic gave the league what amounted to multiple technicals. Last Thursday night’s doubleheader drew an average of 3.4 million viewers on TNT.

All this followed up on baseball's initial opening game, on the Thursday before, on ESPN. The NY Yankees-Washington Nationals games registered 4 million Nielsen-measured viewers. That weekend, some 18 games posted an average 1.2 million viewers — double the number over the same weekend a year ago.

Sure, things will slow down. For example, the re-opening of NHL season (starting this Saturday) has posted higher, but comparable numbers, to the regular season games, which stopped in March.

No matter. Even rough comparisons will tell you the obvious: Live/fresh TV sports and entertainment is sorely missed.

TV Watch now hears upfront budgets -- to some degree -- are being registered as TV ad deal-making when season-long TV budgets are placed from September through August. This comes even as there is an ongoing mystery as to what new prime-time programming will appear.

But know this: Some prime-time entertainment marketers that previously didn’t buy sports might consider it as we approach the third week of September, the traditional start of the TV season.

What would it take for some prime-time marketers to make the leap? Not much, according to one veteran media agency executive. That executive says in this environment, you go with what you have -- even if it’s not perfect.

What about targeting too many men? No problem. Marketers could load up on social-media platforms -- Facebook/Twitter/Snap -- to get women they would ordinary get from prime-time entertainment programming. Roughly, around 55% to 65% of prime-time network entertainment viewers -- depending on the show -- are women.

So, in looking for fourth-quarter TV headlines for new top rookie shows, I’m counting on hockey, basketball, baseball and NASCAR to get some ink -- anything where TV performers speak little and have a number on their backs. Or their cars.

3 comments about "Prime-Time Non-Sports Marketers Might Bet On Sports Programming This Fall".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 4, 2020 at 8:51 a.m.

    Wayne, the CPMs for sports on TV are still way higher than for most other types of content except for very old skewing news. Any marketer who has avoided sports buys would be ill advised to pay the huge cost per viewer demanded just because of tiny increases in Nielsen average minute sports audiences. There are plenty of ways for reaching your target---even if its is mainly males---without touching TV sports. All you need is a competent media planner---providing that all you want is eyeballs---not those "intangibles" that sports offers for those marketers who crave them.

  2. Michael Pursel from Pursel Advertising, August 4, 2020 at 2:55 p.m.

    Lets see, Fox News on Cable has been the leader all summer long in the ratings war, even besting sports, CBS, NBC.... and no where on the ratings radar are your favorites Wayne, CNN and MSNBC.    But no mention of Fox in the story as an alternative to the "Normal" channels discussed.   Yah, no one wants to watch conservative tv anyway.  LOL

  3. Tom Tyler from GCTVTexas, August 5, 2020 at 2:52 p.m.

    Lololol! 3.4 million views is a "record"?  That means 346.6 million Americans did ~not~ watch. That must be some kind of record, too. 

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