Scoring Audiences with Sports TV Advertising


More than 123 million people watched the Kansas City Chiefs trounce the San Francisco 49ers during Super Bowl LVIII making it the most-watched broadcast in television history.1 And a record-breaking 18.9 million viewers tuned in for the faceoff between South Carolina’s Gamecocks and Iowa’s Hawkeyes in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship proving that watching major sporting events is more popular than ever.2

Sports bring in loyal audiences who tend to tune in regardless of how their favorite team is faring. And with its continued expansion into streaming, sports fans have more opportunity to engage with the content they enjoy. This, in turn, provides advertisers more ways to reach sports viewers. In 2023, the NFL brought in an average of 17.9 million viewers per game across streaming and cable channels.3 Recently, even Netflix has gotten into the sports streaming game, signing a 3-year deal to air NFL Christmas Day games and a 10-year partnership with WWE.4,5 As fans continue to watch their favorite sports in large numbers across both traditional TV and streaming, advertisers should follow.

Sports Fans Watch More Than Just the Game

Sports attract audiences that are passionate and committed, and advertising during and around televised and streaming sports events can help companies reach a dedicated audience and build brand awareness. Fans don’t just watch the game: they watch the “game around the game.” Pre-show analysis and post-show highlights attract millions of eyeballs. In 2019, 68% of people who watched ESPN before or after the NBA Finals also watched the network’s broadcast of the games.6

Households Spend a lot of Time Watching Live Sports

According to eMarketer, around 155 million people watch live sports in the US.7 And with the average household spending 23 hours a month with live sports content, sports programming provides advertisers ample opportunity to reach large audiences contemporaneously.8 Last year, more than 89% of Comcast subscriber households watched sports live, with streamed sports delivering 490 million impressions.9,10

Advantages of Sports Advertising

Sporting Events on TV Attract Viewers All Year Round

Sports fans don’t discriminate: Many follow multiple leagues and convert from one fandom to another throughout the year. Previous research has shown that 55% of sports fans watch three or more sports on a consistent basis.11 These superfans are a captive audience for sports advertising. Fans of the NFL also follow NCAA football and the NBA, and NHL fans tend to watch the MLB.11 By leveraging these overlapping interests, advertisers looking to reach a particular league market can access those fans year-round.

Sports Viewing Brings People Around the TV No Matter Where They are Viewing

A notable 92% of sports are watched live, making it a great space for time-sensitive marketing promotions.12 A recent survey found that people prefer to tune in at home and enjoy watching sports together. Viewers are 119% more likely to watch games at home than in sports bars or restaurants.13 And 67% of sports are viewed by two or more people at a time often of varying demographics.14 So sports advertising can reach effectively reach a larger audience than many other types of advertising.

Fans Follow Sports Despite Their Hometown Team’s Record

While they might have disparate demographics, sports fans all share one thing: Their devotion to their favorite teams and leagues. Fans come back again and again to watch league sports, regardless of whether their favorite teams win or lose. For example, NBA fans in Chicago continue to watch the NBA Playoffs even though the Miami Heat eliminated the Chicago Bulls during the play-in tournament. In fact, since mid-April seven out of the top 10 cable programs in Chicago, among A25-54, have been NBA playoff games.15

Sports Advertising Delivers Diverse Audiences

An analysis of 40,000 TV and streaming ad campaigns found that 80% of the 1,000 highest-reaching campaigns included sports.16 And depending on the sport, brands are more apt to reach a variety of audiences. NFL fans, for example, are more likely to be young families, while baseball fans tend to be retirees.17 NBA fans are more likely to be diverse singles, while NHL fans are more likely to be affluent homeowners.17

With sports advertising, brands can harness the power and pull of the programming to reach and engage a healthy mix of audiences.

Why Advertise on Sports with Effectv?

Sports is unmatched in its ability to offer you both broad and targeted reach. And Effectv has your ticket to reach sports enthusiasts who will be watching all of the action, all year long. Make the right play to reach your potential audience with our advertising offerings which unite the prestige of TV with cutting-edge technology, giving you a branding platform that puts your message in front of potential customers efficiently and effectively. To hit a home run on your next advertising campaign, get started with Effectv.


Why Advertise During Sports?

Sports advertising extends campaign reach and connects brands with a devoted and captive audience of fans who would otherwise be inaccessible. 53% of households reached with sports were incremental.18

Does Sports Advertising Work?

Yes. In 2023, the Doral Automotive Group of southern Florida leveraged the success of the Miami Heat to advertise during the team’s NBA regular season games on a message of family values and to connect with customers. Its three dealerships saw a +6% increase in incremental reach and +41% growth in frequency.19

How Much Does it Cost to Advertise on TV?

The cost of TV sports advertising depends on a variety of factors, including time, location, market, network, and market demand.

1. Super Bowl LVIII Draws 123.7 Million Average Viewers, Largest TV Audience on Record, Nielsen, 2024.
2. Women’s College Basketball Championship Game Draws Record-Breaking 18.9 Million Viewers, Nielsen, 2024.
3. NFL averages 17.9M viewers in 2023, up 7% from previous year, ESPN, 2024.
4. Netflix Will Be the Home to Live NFL Games This Christmas Day, Netflix, 2024.
5. Netflix Finally Makes Its Big Move Into Live Sports—in the Most Logical Way, Front Office Sports, 2024.
6. Comcast Viewership Data. Measurement of duplicated audience viewing cable networks one hour before and one hour after the NBA Finals (Game 7: ABC, 6/12/19) as well as viewing the event. 5-minute minimum viewing threshold.
7. Live Sports Viewers Forecast, eMarketer, 2024.
8. Comcast Aggregated Viewership Data for sports programming 2023.
9. Comcast Aggregated National Sports Viewership Data. January – December 2023.
10. Comcast Aggregated Ad Exposure data from Effectv Streaming campaigns across all DMAs. January – December 2023. Streaming site section name includes sports networks (ESPN, SEC, ACC, FS1, Fox Sports, GOLF) or sports terminology (sports, NFL, Golf, PGA, MLB, NBA)
11. Comcast Internal Viewing Data. Full Year 2019. Number of sports watched among heavy sports viewer tercile.
12. Nielsen NPOWER Reach Report. Program Type: Sports Events across cable, broadcast & live streaming.
13. Comcast Advertising Survey. N=1000. April 2024. Qualifying Criteria: Watched sports content (game, highlights, talk show, etc…) in the P6M.
14. TVision Program Analysis Time Period Report. Live + SD on linear only within Effectv footprint. January – December 2023. Co-viewing rate is the proportion of viewing where two or more viewers are in the room with the content tuned for a minimum of 5 minutes for program time and 2 seconds for commercial time.
15. eDMA HH and demo ratings/imps based on Nielsen Storm Overnights, Chicago Interconnect Live+SD, NBA Playoffs on TNT and ESPN 4/16/2024-4/29/2024. Adjusted to BBO Population where available. Extrapolated by Strata VIEW. Top 10 from Nielsen Arianna, Chicago Live+SD A25-54 impressions, Interconnect insertable networks, 4/16/2024-4/29/2024.
16. Comcast Aggregated Viewership Data combined with Ad Exposure Data from TV + Effectv Streaming campaigns (1H ‘23). Filtered to the 1,000 highest reaching campaigns.
17. Comcast Aggregated Sports Ad Exposure data matched with Experian. January – December 2023.
18. Comcast Internal Analysis of Sports Multiscreen Campaigns. Jan – Dec 2023. Only includes campaigns with that reached 1000+ households and delivered 1000+ impressions.
19. From Slam Dunks to Sold Cars: Leveraging Live Sports to Reach the Right Car Buyers, Effectv, 2023.