National TV sports generated $10.9 billion in advertising expenditure last year, representing 6% growth from $10.3 billion the year prior, according to a Nielsen report released in January 2012. Measuring ad spend during sporting events on network and cable TV from Q4 2010 through Q3 2011, Nielsen found that cable has an increasing share of those ad dollars, growing 37.3% year-over-year. The increase in TV ad spend mirrors a similar increase in the amount of live TV sports content available on TV and cable: there were more than 42,500 hours of live sporting events on national broadcast and cable TV in 2011, a 5% rise over 2010.
AT&T Dominates Ad Spend
TV sports advertising is dominated by a few big spenders, with the top 10 accounting for 26% of the total spend from Q4 2010 through Q3 2011. AT&T Wireless proved to the biggest spender, with its $423.5 million outlay more than double that of its nearest competitors, Bud Light ($210.2 million) and Verizon Wireless ($207.7 million). McDonalds ($164.9 million) and DIRECTV ($160.5 million) rounded out the top 5, with Geico ($158.1 million) closely following.
NBA Spend Jumps
Ad spend for the 2010-2011 NBA post season rose to $623.2 million, up 28% from $487.3 million the prior year. Ad spending during the regular 2010-2011 season also shot up, reaching $406.8 million, representing a 31% increase from $311.4 million for the 2009-2010 regular season, and a 42% leap from $287.3 million for the 2008-2009 regular season.
The extended lockout did not appear to dampen fans’ enthusiasm, as almost 35 million viewers watched at least a portion of 1 of the 5 games that aired nationally on Christmas Day to kick off the new season.
More Women Tune Into the Super Bowl
Data from Nielsen’s “State of the Media: Year in Sports” indicates that women made up 46% of the Super Bowl audience in 2011, a 4.5% increase from 44% in 2006 and a 7% rise from 43% in 2002. Adults aged 35-49 (25%) continued to account for the largest share of viewers by age group, although they lost share from 2006 (28%) and are now challenged by 18-34-year-olds (23%) and 50-64-year-olds (22%). Caucasians (80%) also remain the dominant ethnicity watching the Super Bowl, followed by African Americans (11%) and Hispanics (9%).
Meanwhile, in September 2011, 25% of mobile web users aged over 18 visited a sports site through their mobile phone, and 27.8% of those visiting a sports site visited NFL.com, meaning that 7% of all mobile web traffic over 18 visited the site at some point during the opening month of the NFL season. In fact, visitors to NFL.com are 55% more likely to become a fan or follow a brand than the general population.
- Brand recall was 33% higher for Super Bowl ads with a social media tag (directing viewers to a link on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) than those without them.
- In 2011, fans tuned in to NFL action in record-setting numbers on Thanksgiving, as over 73 million viewers watched at least a portion of one of the three NFL games which aired on November 24, 2011. According to December 2011 data released by Nielsen, NFL telecasts made up 9 of the top 10 single telecasts of the year.
- The mobile web audience among sports sites increased by 22% from November 2010 to November 2011.
- Total ad spending on NCAA basketball during the 2010-2011 season reached $1.3 billion, up from roughly $1 billion the previous season. Ad spend on NCAA football, by contrast, fell to $787 million during the 2010-2011 season, down from $946.3 million the year before.
- Total corporate spending was up over 8% during the golf season in 2011 as compared to 2010. The top 5 advertisers on golf TV were Southwest Airlines, AT&T, FedEx, Eli Lily, and Daimler.
- NASCAR fans who visited Nascar.com in 2011 are almost 50% more likely to own a hybrid vehicle and 28% more likely to have attended a movie in the past 6 months than the general population.
- The 2011 UEFA Champions League Final was the most watched in US history at 2.6 million viewers, up 59% from 2010.
- The top 5 TV advertising spenders during soccer games which aired nationally spent 95% of their dollars on Spanish language network TV.