Whether looking at the NFL, the Masters, or March Madness, sports play-by-play audio elevates the media plan.
Of all media platforms, AM/FM radio leads in attentiveness
Attention measurement is a new trend sweeping through media circles and is gaining traction as a metric for understanding campaign effectiveness. The Advertising Research Foundation defines advertising attentiveness as “the degree to which those exposed to the advertising are focused on it.”
According to the recently released Media Attentiveness and Ad Skipping Report by the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®, of all media, AM/FM radio ads are number one for being noticed and holding attention. AM/FM radio ads are stickier than ads on free online streaming services like Pandora and Spotify and generate the lowest levels of ad skipping.
Sports format AM/FM radio stations generate the highest levels of consumer attention
According to the MARU/Matchbox study, spoken word formats perform exceptionally well when consumers are asked about what holds their attention most.
Formats like News/Talk and NPR, along with formats that are culturally relevant like Christian/Religious and Spanish, see the highest levels of attentiveness. The format with the highest attentiveness is Sports with 76% of respondents saying they pay extremely or very close attention when listening.
Sports fans who consume via audio play-by-play are more passionate than those who watch on TV
According to MRI-Simmons, compared to sports fans who watch on TV, fans who listen to sports on AM/FM radio are more passionate. Across a variety of engagement measures, audio sports listeners have the passion advantage.
While the sports TV audience is more casual, the play-by-play sports listener is leaning in and more engaged with the content. Take NFL and NCAA basketball fans, for example.
Compared to those who watch the NFL on television, those who listen to the NFL on AM/FM radio are:
- +43% more likely to have visited a sports website on a mobile phone in the last 30 days
- +72% more likely to have used a sports app on a mobile phone in the last 30 days
- +100% more likely to have participated in a fantasy sports league in the last 12 months
- +300% more likely to have attended any NFL games
- +143% more likely to have placed a bet on sports or fantasy sports in the last 12 months
Compared to those who watch NCAA basketball on TV, those who listen to NCAA basketball on AM/FM radio are:
- +16% more likely to have visited a sports website on a mobile phone in the last 30 days
- +23% more likely to have participated in a fantasy sports league in the last 12 months
- +41% more likely to be considered a sports category influential consumer
- +300% more likely to have attended any NCAA basketball games
- +55% more likely to have placed a bet on sports or fantasy sports in the last 12 months
Adding sports play-by-play audio to the TV plan adds an engaged audience, giving commercials greater impact for advertisers.
Compared to sports fans watching on TV, the sports audio play-by-play audience is younger and more upscale
There is a distinct difference between the profile of sports TV viewers and sports play-by-play audio listeners. The AM/FM radio sports audience is younger than the TV sports viewer (35 vs. 44), has a higher median income ($90K vs. $84K), and is more likely to have graduated college, be employed, and have children.
Reach is the foundation of media effectiveness
While there is a lot of discussion about targeting in media planning, according to Les Binet and Sarah Carter, authors of the marketing strategy book How Not To Plan: 66 Ways To Screw It Up, reach is the foundation of media effectiveness.
They advise, “Always aim to get more customers from all segments of the market. It’s the main way brands grow. Talk to everyone who buys your category. Talk to them regularly. Advertising memories fade. Go for reach, rather than frequency. Reach as many category buyers as possible.”
Sports play-by-play audio delivers massive reach for advertisers
According to a major Nielsen study of Portable People Meter data of national NFL games that air on Westwood One, reach builds throughout the season. As the season progresses, the accumulation of new listeners to NFL games grows and grows.
Regardless of play-by-play sport, whether baseball, football, or basketball, the same pattern holds true. Reach accumulates throughout the season. Every game, there are new listeners. Advertisers can utilize the mass accumulation of reach throughout the season in sports play-by-play to build their brand and drive sales effect.
Sports play-by-play audio adds significant incremental reach and amplified frequency to media plans
According to a cross-media analysis conducted by Nielsen, putting ads in sports play-by-play audio reaches consumers who are difficult to reach on TV.
For the crossover audience who is reached on both TV and audio, AM/FM radio sports play-by-play amplifies frequency.
The rise of fantasy sports and the legalization of gambling offer advertisers new ways to utilize sports play-by-play to reach audiences
There are over 100+ million Americans who live in states where sports betting is legal, according to the Washington Post, with an additional 50 million Americans able to place in-person bets within driving distance. According to Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs predicts the online betting market could reach $39 billion by 2033. This is an industry that is not slowing down.
The sports betting audience is educated, affluent, employed, and has children
According to a recent MARU/Matchbox analysis, those who are very or somewhat interested in sports betting are more likely to be employed, have graduated college, and have children. They are also more affluent with 42% having a $75K-$100K income.
Online sports bettors are more likely to be heavy AM/FM radio listeners
Those who are interested in sports betting tend to skew younger in the adult 21-54 age range. Those who are very or somewhat interested are also more likely to be heavy AM/FM radio listeners (40%) versus heavy TV viewers (30%).
All of the excitement surrounding the growing industry of online sports betting can be found in the AM/FM radio audience. Compared to the average AM/FM radio sports listener, those listeners who participate in fantasy sports leagues and/or place bets on sports are:
- +57% more likely to have visited a sports website on a mobile phone in the last 30 days
- +141% more likely to have used a sports app on a mobile phone in the last 30 days
- +150% more likely to have friends/family ask them for/trust their advice on sports
- +225% more likely to be considered a sports category influential consumer
- +38% more likely to have attended any sports games
Here are some advertiser case studies that prove sports audio play-by-play generates sales effect and brand lift:
Nielsen case study – Auto parts manufacturer NCAA basketball: Sports play-by-play audio drove improved brand recognition, boosted brand images, and elevated the entire media plan
According to a Nielsen case study of an auto parts manufacturer’s NCAA basketball AM/FM radio campaign, exposure to the advertiser’s ads via play-by-play audio grew brand preference +19%, unaided awareness +15%, and boosted the brand’s image of being able to help customers understand shocks and struts by +44%.
Those who were able to recall the AM/FM radio ads were also more likely to recall ads on other media platforms. The presence of their ads in the sports play-by-play broadcasts elevated the entire media plan.
Nielsen case study – Mobile app NFL: Sports play-by-play audio boosted brand and purchase metrics
According to a Nielsen case study for a mobile app that ran ads in Westwood One’s NFL broadcasts, exposure to the AM/FM radio campaign had a positive impact throughout the purchase funnel, growing ad recall +28%, app awareness +26%, favorability +14%, recommendation +14%, and app usage +21%.
The study also revealed that using sports play-by-play talent generated greater performance with a +60% growth in favorability versus the average AM/FM radio ad not voiced by the talent.
Nielsen case study – Major motorcycle brand NCAA basketball and NFL: Presence in the sports play-by-play programming elevated ad recall, drove website interest, and boosted purchase intent
Nielsen studied a major motorcycle brand’s media campaign in both NCAA basketball and NFL play-by-play audio. The results showed the immense impact of sports AM/FM radio.
Among motorcycle owners, NFL audio grew ad recall +58%. The campaign also drove website interest with ads in NCAA basketball play-by-play driving a +33% increase in likelihood to visit the brand’s website. The ads in NCAA basketball audio also resulted in a +63% increase in plans to purchase the brand.
Why put sports audio in the media plan?
Sports play-by-play audio delivers an attentive, passionate group of desirable consumers. Sports audio also offers advertisers increased engagement, especially among the growing audience of those interested in fantasy sports and online gambling, and drives massive incremental reach and frequency amplification, making sports TV campaigns better.
- Of all media platforms, AM/FM radio leads in attentiveness
- Sports format AM/FM radio stations generate the highest levels of consumer attention
- Sports fans who consume via audio play-by-play are more passionate than those who watch on TV
- Compared to sports fans watching on TV, the sports audio play-by-play audience is younger and more upscale
- Sports play-by-play on AM/FM radio delivers massive reach for advertisers
- Play-by-play sports add significant incremental reach and amplified frequency to media plans
- The sports betting audience is educated, affluent, employed, and has children
- Online sports bettors are more likely to be heavy AM/FM radio listeners
- Nielsen case study – Auto parts manufacturer NCAA basketball: Sports play-by-play audio drove improved brand recognition, boosted brand images, and elevated the entire media plan
- Nielsen case study – Mobile app NFL: Sports play-by-play audio boosted brand and purchase metrics
- Nielsen case study – Major motorcycle brand NCAA basketball and NFL: Presence in the sports play-by-play programming elevated ad recall, drove website interest, and boosted purchase intent
Download your copy of the How Sports Audio Elevates the Media Plan deck
Pierre Bouvard is Chief Insights Officer at Cumulus Media | Westwood One and President of the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®.
Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@westwoodone.com.