As Pro Sports Teams Protest, TV Advertisers May Start To Worry

A couple of years ago, TV advertisers worried about NFL players taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem as a protest to social injustice.

Much of this occurred before NFL games and other pro sports contests.

What if that goes far deeper? Like professional sports athletes deciding not to participate in playing actual games from time to time?

The Milwaukee Bucks went in this direction this week -- due to the shooting of Jacob Blake in the back by police in Kenoska, Wisconsin -- a town close to Milwaukee.

So the NBA postponed its playoff game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic. Later that day, the NBA decided to postpone all playoff games. And then the WNBA did the same thing. As did Major League Baseball. The NHL just announced it has called off Thursday and Friday playoff games to protest the Blake shooting.



But its only late August, with much more sports activity coming. Not just the rest of the NBA and NHL playoffs, but the regular Major League Baseball season and its post-season action.

And then an even bigger spotlight: The NFL, where kneeling and protests over social injustice began this week four years ago by then San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kapernick, before a pre-season game.

We haven’t even addressed the health issue -- the prospects for an intense flu season, coupled with the return of another round of headline-grabbing Covid-19 cases.

Things are already tentative for the fall TV season, due to production issues.

What happens if more social-unrest incidents get more airtime than TV news stories? And/or social media videos circulate through the rest of this year and into late January 2021?

If no changes get made when it comes to police-enforcement rules and procedures -- and if the depressed economy doesn’t let up -- tensions will continue to remain high. Video will carry more social and other related infections. And TV networks and advertisers will worry about the health of their business.

2 comments about "As Pro Sports Teams Protest, TV Advertisers May Start To Worry".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 28, 2020 at 9:54 a.m.

    Wayne, there is no doubt that the current social crisis concerning the BLM movement as well as the ongoing Corona virus epidemic is taking its toll on the networks' ability to air live team sports and, you are right, this can affect both ratings and gross ad revenues---in both cases negatively. However, as I have pointed out before, what is not being discussed is the profitability of nationally televised sports to the networks. Traditionally, these games were carried for two reasons. First, they allowed the network affiliated stations, including the very profitable network O&Os, to sell premium station break spots to local advertisers at high CPMs --a very profitable deal for the stations as they bore no costs for such content. Second, the sports features attracted a kind of advertiser who might not otherwise be a big spender on the networks.

    Later, with the advent of cable and the networks---manly ABC and NBC---- owning very profitable cable channels, having big time sports attractions allowed the cable systems and satellite distributors to charge hefty fees, which brought the networks and their cable channels significant profit making incomes via retransmission fees. But the networks, themselves made little money on their sports packages---as the leagues' demands kept rising to pay off the players. Indeed, many sports attractions were money losers as network propositions.

    The question now is will the old system, whereby the networks make their profits on sports via retransmission fees and local spot sales by the stations now be in jeopardy? Certainly the athletes will continue to demand more and more---while giving less and less. There may come a point where the networks simply give up and let the games go exclusively digital on a subscriber basis. In which case they will substitute much cheaper non-prime content, and make a profit  in the time slots previously devoted to sports. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and whether the leagues will adapt to the evolving situation.

  2. Bob Fahner from Prime media, August 28, 2020 at 3:33 p.m.

    It will all clear up after the always does.

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