Business of sports broadcasting- Exploring advertising and sponsorship models

Sports broadcasting are a massive global industry generating billions of dollars in revenue annually. Media companies pay enormous sums for the rights to broadcast major sporting events and leagues, which attract huge audiences of devoted fans. This presents a lucrative opportunity for broadcasters to earn money through advertising and sponsorships.

Advertising in sports broadcasting

Advertising is the lifeblood of the sports broadcasting business. With the ability to reach vast numbers of viewers who are deeply engaged with the content, sports present an ideal platform for advertisers looking to capture consumer attention.

  • Commercial spots- The most familiar type of TV advertising, commercial spots are brief video ads inserted during breaks in the game action. A typical commercial break may include 6-8 spots of 15-30 seconds each. Advertisers pay based on expected viewership, ad length, and number of airings.
  • Billboard ads- These are sponsored graphics, often featuring a brand logo and message, displayed on screen during the broadcast. Billboard ads are commonly shown before or after commercial breaks or during lulls in the action. They provide a more subtle and integrated branding opportunity than standard commercial spots.
  • Product placement– This involves physically featuring or mentioning a sponsor’s product within the broadcast. A typical example is a sponsored instant replay segment, which introduces the replay with language like “The [Brand] Instant Replay.” Virtual product placement, where sponsor logos or products are digitally inserted into the video feed, is also rising.
  • Shoulder programming– In addition to the main event itself, sports broadcasts are typically surrounded by extensive shoulder programmings like pre- and post-game shows, interview segments, highlight reels, and more. This bonus content creates additional opportunities to incorporate sponsor messages and branding.

Sponsorships in sports

Advertising and sponsorship are the other key pillars of the sports broadcasting business model. Sponsorships involve brands paying a rights fee to establish an official association with a particular sport, league, event, team, or athlete.  Primarily a short-term media buy, sponsorships are typically longer-term deals spanning multiple years. By buying ad spots, sponsors get a much deeper integration and brand exposure across all facets of the sport or event they’re sponsoring.

  1. Event naming rights– For the biggest spenders, event naming rights offer unparalleled brand exposure. Recent examples include the TCS London Marathon, the Barclays FA Women’s Super League, and the UEFA Europa League presented by Heineken.
  2. Venue naming rights– Putting a corporate name on a team’s home stadium or arena is another A-list sponsorship opportunity. Examples include Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Citi Field in New York, and the Allianz Arena in Munich.
  3. On-Screen branding– Sponsors enjoy heavy on-screen exposure during the event broadcast, with opportunities ranging from logo bugs to branded graphics to sponsored segments hosted by the broadcast team read full info here
  4. Experiential activations– Major sponsors often get the opportunity to create immersive fan experiences on-site at the event venue—interactive exhibits, product sampling, VIP lounges, sponsored concerts, and more. The goal is to make a splash and form memorable associations between the brand and the event.
  5. Category exclusivity– Top-tier sponsorships typically come with category exclusivity, meaning no other brand from the same industry vertical will be associated with the property. Common sponsorship categories include airlines, auto, beer, soft drinks, financial services, telecom, and more.
  6. Digital and social- Sponsors are featured on the event or league’s official website and social media channels. Custom digital content, sponsored posts and partner logos across all vital online touchpoints are common ways sponsors are highlighted.