Skip to main content

Screen Wars Thought Leader Interviews are also available on

SpotifyApple PodcastGoogle Podcast
State of the Screens

TV Networks Can’t Drop The Ball On Live Sports

By July 22, 2021No Comments

Bottom line: As cord-cutting increases, the importance of sports to the TV ecosystem has never been greater.

Wow: In 2019 (non-election year), sports accounted for 89 of the 100 most viewed TV shows and 37% of all ad impressions!

Ad impressions for Emmy-nominated series (% change) according to Fox Sports:
1) 1998 – 438M
2) 2018 – 31M (↓ 93%)

Ad impressions for premium sports event (% change):
1) 1998 – 467M
2) 2018 – 329M (↓ 30%)

Average viewership in 2020 according to Sportico:
1) NFL game (regular season) – 17.2M
2) Combined primetime (ABC/CBS/NBC/Fox) – 5.1M

Why this matters: Sports has become the only event that can consistently deliver large audiences TV advertisers crave.

Top NFL/NBA/MLB/NHL advertisers in 2020 according to Sportico:
1) Amazon
2) Apple
3) Berkshire Hathaway (Geico)
4) Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile)
5) Progressive
6) State Farm
7) Verizon

By the way: These advertisers devoted ≈ 45% of their TV ad budgets to sports in 2020. What may be even crazier is ≈ 28% of their overall marketing budgets went to sports on TV.

Quote from Geetha Ranganathan – Media Analyst @ Bloomberg Intelligence:

“Sports [are] kind of the last bastion of the linear television model.”

NFL ad load (30s spots) per game (YoY growth):
1) 2019 – 69
2) 2020 – 73 (↑ 6%)

More: Is sports TV viewership turning the corner? Here’s what the experts think

Michael Beach

Michael Beach

Michael Beach is the Chief Executive Officer of Cross Screen Media, a media analytics and software company that enables marketers to plan, activate, and measure CTV and linear TV at the local level. Michael is also the founder and editor of State of the Screens, a weekly newsletter focused on video advertising that is a must-read for thought leaders in the advertising industry. He has appeared in such publications as PBS Frontline, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Axios, CNBC and Bloomberg, and on NPR’s Planet Money podcast.

Leave a Reply