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The Power Play: Why Sports Dominate Live Viewership in Broadcast and How Your Brand Can Score Big 

As TV viewing habits continue to evolve across broadcast, streaming, and digital channels, one habit remains constant: Sports reign supreme in live viewership. What does this all mean for brand advertising? Dan McDonough, TEGNA’s Director of Sponsorships, explains the power of sports and its effect on advertising outcomes. 

Meredith Cunningham Published: February 2, 2024
The Power Play: Why Sports Dominate Live Viewership in Broadcast and How Your Brand Can Score Big  image

By Dan McDonough, Director of Sponsorships, TEGNA

Live sports continue to thrive in the US and remain a staple in people’s viewing habits. Watching live sports uniquely provides a sense of excitement, competition, and belonging that can’t be replicated through other forms of TV.  

For some, it provides an escape from the hectic day-to-day and, for a few minutes, feel like they’re part of the team/ competing, fully invested in the outcome of the game. 

But what happens beyond that is really unique. Brands that consistently show up to play within a particular sports broadcast, especially those with a creative campaign that enhances the viewer experience, create a deeper connection with fans/viewers because they’re invested in a team or sport the viewer cares about. 

For advertisers, sports is also a brand-safe play and generally much less controversial when advertising in sports. You rarely have to be concerned about moments where you fear your brand will inadvertently be alongside controversial content. For instance, TEGNA’s LockedOn Podcast Network doesn’t allow political advertising under the premise that sports are a safe haven from that arena. 

The State of Sports Viewership 

The year 2023 had no shortage of sports headlines, which helped to fuel viewership for some of the year’s biggest events. 

No doubt, there will be even more headlines in 2024 as we’re set to witness a spectacular lineup of 23 major sporting events, starting with the iconic Super Bowl and March Madness to the Paris Olympics and exciting events like the Masters, Kentucky Derby, and Tour De France. the stage is set for record-breaking broadcast ratings.  

Super Bowl LVIII is also in store for another historic ratings record. The match-up between the Chiefs and 49ers playing in Las Vegas feels like the makings of another juggernaut from the NFL.  

I also predict the Paris Olympics will have massive ratings in the US this year. The past few Olympics (2018 in PyeongChang, 2021 in Tokyo, and 2022 in Beijing) were host cities based in Asia, where viewing times were unfavorable for fans in the Western hemisphere. I think it’s fair to say most fans watched replays of the events that took place overnight. With Paris, an iconic and multicultural city that is roughly six hours ahead of us, these Games are ripe for the best viewership since the 2016 Games in Rio.  

To top it off, more and more changes are being made to games, all built to improve the fans’ viewership experience. For example, the MLB has added the pitch clock to shorten game times, and the NFL’s Next Gen Stats by AWS plays into the continued popularity of fantasy sports and the growing popularity of sports betting in the US. 

The Value of Advertising Alongside Sports 

The beauty of sports is that there are many different options for advertiser alignment on the broadcast side. Whether it be spots, sponsored content, or an integration, how your brand shows up within sports can make a lasting impact on fans.

Content sponsorships with your local news station are one great option to make an impact, as they allow you to integrate your brand message into the story. For example, the TEGNA Sports Report sponsorship provides connectivity to all local sports, professional and amateur, delivered by beloved local personalities that viewers know and trust. 


Best Practices

By advertising in the local broadcast space, you see values align between your brand and the fans. It’s imperative that when building a sports-aligned marketing campaign, you highlight why your brand is also passionate about the sport/team and enhance the overall viewer experience.  

Sports fans are very passionate and inherently particular. They’re actively choosing to spend time watching a team or sport that they really care about. With local broadcast advertising, you’re speaking directly to a particular fan base, which provides a more intimate messaging opportunity. Make sure to be authentic with your brand’s voice and your intentions. 

Inspirational Examples 

Sports advertising campaigns can ignite passion and leave a lasting impression. These thought-provoking examples of sports advertising go beyond the surface, weaving narratives that inspire, unite, and celebrate the incredible intersection of sportsmanship and storytelling, and can be used as an example to inspire your brand’s creative campaign.  

Nike’s Write the Future  

No surprise that Nike spends the time and money to get messaging right. They released this spot right before the 2010 World Cup, perfectly capturing what soccer and the World Cup mean for fans and players: Be successful, and you’re on top of the world. Fail, and you’ve got a target on your back. 

NHL’s No Words  

I love this ad. It highlights what winning a championship really means to players (and their fans). Winning a championship is something they’ve worked so hard for and dedicated their lives to accomplishing. When it finally does happen, they’re overwhelmed, and no words can describe the feeling.  

Championship-Winning Campaigns with Team TEGNA  

Our ultimate goal is to equip brands with insights to capture the hearts and minds of sports fans nationwide. Team TEGNA knows the power of cross-platform ad campaigns that combine TV, streaming, and digital assets, and we’re ready to jump-start your campaign today. With 64 broadcast stations in 51 markets nationwide, TEGNA has a unique ability to reach drivers across Broadcast, OTT Streaming, and digital solutions. Contact us today to see how we can accelerate your advertising.  

Want to learn more about sports advertising? Be sure to check out:  

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