Q2 Quarterly Sports Preview: Looking Forward to Spring and Summer

04.02.2024 David Holmes5 min

As we approach the second quarter of 2024, let’s reflect on the thrilling moments from the first quarter in sports, and look ahead to exciting sports advertising opportunities for local businesses this spring and summer.  

The Michigan Wolverines claimed victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship, attracting over 25 million viewers across ESPN networks, marking a 45% increase from the previous year’s championship game.  Nickelodeon introduced its first-ever Super Bowl ‘SlimeCast,’ featuring a SpongeBob-themed alternate telecast that sparked viral videos and kept fans laughing throughout the night.

So, what’s next for sports advertising opportunities?

Match-Up Madness for the NCAA

March Madness is in full swing, with Turner Sports hosting the men’s Final Four and NCAA Championship games on TBS, TNT, and truTV in April.  Meanwhile, ESPN continues its exclusive coverage of NCAA March Madness Women’s Basketball, including the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and Final Four.  Additionally, ESPN offers an alternative telecast of the Women’s NCAA Championship game on ESPN, hosted by basketball stars Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird.

Women’s sports are on the rise, with the 2023 NCAA tournament final between Iowa and LSU drawing nearly 10 million viewers, a 103% increase from the previous year.

It’s Playoff Time

April also marks the end of the NHL and NBA regular seasons, leading to the Playoffs.  The NBA Playoffs begin on April 16th, with ESPN and TNT airing the majority of postseason games, through the Conference Finals.  Viewership for the NBA regular season has seen a notable increase, especially on ESPN.  Looking ahead, these playoff games are expected to be among the most-watched programs on television.  In the Eastern Conference, teams like the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks are vying for the top seed, while in the Western Conference, upstart teams such as the OKC Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves aim to leave their mark, challenging the defending NBA Champions, the Denver Nuggets, led by Nikola Jokic, who seek to defend their title.

In the NHL, fans eagerly anticipate the Playoff matchups as the regular season’s top teams transition into postseason action.  Turner Sports (TBS, TNT, and truTV) and ESPN networks will provide extensive coverage of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, beginning on April 23rd, extending through the Conference Finals.  Playoff hockey brings a unique intensity, marking a fresh start for all teams that have secured a postseason spot.  Will the Vancouver Canucks, holding the current #1 seed in the Western Conference, parlay their impressive regular season performance into a successful Playoff run?  Or will last year’s Stanley Cup Champions, the Vegas Golden Knights, clinch a playoff spot and strive to return to the Stanley Cup Final?  In the Eastern Conference, a tight battle ensues among the #1 seed and 2024 Presidents Cup winner, the Boston Bruins, last year’s Stanley Cup runner-up, the Florida Panthers, and the impressive NY Rangers.

Baseball & Women’s Basketball are Back

The first pitch of the 2024 MLB regular season was thrown out on Thursday, March 28th, featuring a face-off between the 2023 defending World Series Champions, the Texas Rangers, and the Chicago Cubs, airing live on ESPN.  ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball franchise continues to draw audiences, with viewership up 7% in 2023, averaging 1.5 million viewers compared to 1.4 million in 2022. Additionally, baseball enthusiasts will tune into Fox Sports 1 and TBS to catch their favorite teams, making cable a significant platform for MLB coverage throughout the season.   

May brings the start of the WNBA regular season, building on the success of the 2023 season which saw record-breaking viewership, attendance, and digital engagement.  Combined regular season viewership in 2023 increased by 21% over 2022, with the 2023 WNBA Draft on ESPN experiencing a remarkable 42% viewership surge compared to 2022.  ESPN Networks will continue to feature several WNBA games in 2024, as teams like the back-to-back Champions, the Las Vegas Aces, strive for a third consecutive victory.

More Anticipated Sports Moments

The 2024 NFL Draft is scheduled to take place in Detroit from April 25th to the 27th, with coverage of Draft Days 1 and 2 on ESPN and NFL Network, and Draft Day 3 on NFL Network.  In 2023, NFL Draft viewership increased by 12% over 2022.

NASCAR maintains its status as one of the fastest-growing sports, with consistent viewership and fan engagement over the past three years.  Despite some fluctuations in 2023, NASCAR remains the leader in motorsports viewership in the U.S., with an average of 1.24 million viewers per grand prix for the first 12 races of the 2023 season.  NASCAR will continue to captivate audiences in the second quarter, with 26 races airing exclusively on Fox Sports 1 and USA.

For golf enthusiasts, the PGA Championship in May and the 2024 U.S. Open in June offer thrilling tournaments, with coverage of each round on ESPN and USA, respectively.  In 2023, the U.S. Open was the most-watched in four years.

As you can see, the second quarter presents numerous exciting sports advertising opportunities for local businesses.  With over 80% of all live sports airing on cable, Cox Media delivers unmatched sports action.  Contact your local Cox Media Representative today to discover how you can engage with sports fans through these exciting opportunities.     

About the Author

David Holmes

David Holmes is a marketing professional with over 20 years of media experience, specializing in customer service, cultivating relationships, fostering team collaboration, and achieving results. He serves as a Marketing Strategist on the Cox Media Las Vegas team and has been with the organization for over 8 years. In this role, David proactively collaborates with his team and clients, strategically employing digital and traditional media solutions. He leverages partnerships and unique offerings, maximizes opportunities in sports programming, utilizes specific audience targeting, employs data-driven insights for effective storytelling and sales growth, and engages in continuous learning and collaboration to adapt to market trends and drive business success. Outside of work, David enjoys spending time with his wife and dog, traveling, visiting theme parks, riding roller coasters, and pursuing his passion for sports.

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