Winning Sports Advertising Strategies for the Agency Media Buyer

Sports advertising helps agencies, big or small, beat market fragmentation and harness the reach of live sporting events to make their clients’ brands stand out among sports fans, one of the most diverse and passionate audiences in today’s media landscape.

“When we work with our advertisers, we utilize aggregated Comcast viewership data to really understand where to best place those advertising dollars for that mid-tier agency within the sports genre,” says Annie Hagerty, Research & Insights Manager at Comcast Advertising. “Regardless of the size of a business or agency, we see that advertising in sports programming provides incremental reach across audiences.”

Sports Advertising Shows No Signs of Slowing Down

For dedicated fans, live sporting events are must-see TV moments, offering advertisers an immediate, engaged audience. In a study of approximately 40,000 ad campaigns airing across traditional TV and streaming content over a one-month time period, Effectv found that 80% of the 1,000 highest reaching campaigns included sports programming.1 Plus, in 2022, more than 80% of Comcast households were reached by sports programming during every quarter of the year, indicating that sports advertising should be an evergreen component of multiscreen TV campaigns rather than simply an add-on during major moments such as the World Cup or Super Bowl.2

Advertisers also have the opportunity to capitalize on the increasing coverage of sports via streaming services as more live sports are added to streaming platforms. Streamed sports delivered more than 500 million impressions in 2022, and that number will only continue to rise.2

Capturing the Right Crowd with Audience Targeting

According to an estimation from eMarketer, there are 155 million live sports fans in the United States.3 Plus, about 42% of sports viewing is “co-viewed” by multiple people,4 according to Brittany Cameron, Senior Research & Insights Analyst at Comcast Advertising. “You often see families or friends coming together to watch sports as a group for a communal experience, so advertisers can get in front of multiple demographics from a single ad,” she adds.

Needless to say, potential audiences are abundant when it comes to live sporting events. But to maximize efficiency and budgets, advertisers and agencies should apply viewership insights to target the audiences most likely to resonate with their brands. The Effectv Sports Matrix illustrates where “Superfan Viewers” (viewers found in the top third percentile of a specific sport’s viewing in 2022) spend their sports-watching hours outside of their favorite sport, helping advertisers reach those fans all year long, rather than just during a single sport’s season. Audience profiles specific to U.S. sports fans also indicate demographic trends, such as NBA fans being more likely to be urban renters, NFL fans being more likely to be young families, and beyond.2

Combined with Effectv’s ability to use aggregated first-party data to optimize the dynamics between streaming and traditional TV, these insights put advertisers on track for their goals.

Winning Game Plans for Agencies

Research finds that reach peaks when 20–30% of a brand’s video investment is in streaming, in combination with traditional TV.1 That means that no matter a brand’s budget, a multiscreen TV approach is key for success. By booking campaigns early and as packages rather than one-offs, agencies can optimize client budgets and prevent last-minute scrambling to secure advertising slots for specific games.

If an agency’s budget is on the lighter side, there are still plenty of opportunities to leverage the power of sports advertising through Effectv’s offerings. “If a client doesn’t have the largest budget, but they still want to advertise during a major league sport all season long, we offer half packages across markets,” says Andy Niswonger, Measurement & Insights Manager at Effectv. “This gets the advertiser’s campaign in during every other game over the course of the entire season, which maximizes budget while retaining frequency.” In addition to half-packages, agencies with lower budgets can opt into pre-game programming such as Monday Night Football’s Monday Night Countdown, which gets your brands in front of the same NFL fans.

On the other hand, if a client’s budget allows it, agencies can maximize brand recognition by appearing in every game during a team’s season. Larger budgets also allow brands to treat the “big four” leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL) as the foundational core of the campaign and layer on additional sports such as NASCAR and the PGA. If a brand has any additional content sponsorships or in-arena advertising with a team, a multiscreen TV advertising campaign ensures they reach not only fans in attendance at games, but also fans watching from home.

Adding Effectv to Your All-Star Lineup

Even though sports are one of the most tried and true cornerstones of today’s media landscape, there are still developments and changing trends that advertisers should note. From younger viewers shifting their allegiances away from individual teams and into particular sports at large, to more and more viewers turning to streaming for must-see matchups, every trend presents an opportunity for advertisers.

Effectv can help your agency or brand navigate these dynamics and leverage the power of sports advertising to reach your target audience. From initial goal-setting to the delivery of a final campaign report, our experts are on your team for every step of the process.

Connect with us today to start leveraging the power of sports advertising to score big for your brand.


1. The TV Viewership report 1H 2023, Effectv, 2023.
2. The Sports Replay: A Campaign Analysis of Sports Advertising, Effectv, 2023.
3. Live Sports Viewers, Insider Intelligence|eMarketer, 2023.
4. Nielsen NPower, CY 2022. All SE Program Types Coviewing Report. P2+. Included as a component of Effectv: The Sports Replay: A Campaign Analysis of Sports Advertising.