Three Tips for Building a Nimble Sports Advertising Strategy

09.21.2020 Cox Media

Sports are back, and in a big way. Even though most major sporting events feature only limited fans or no fans at all, televised sports has made its triumphant return across every major sport in North America, along with many others around the world.

The return of sports also marks the return of sports-related advertising, especially on cable TV. Audiences are starved for live sports programming, and they’ve followed through on their passion by tuning in to watch everything from the Korean Baseball Organization to the NFL’s opening weekend.

Sports audiences have proven their savvy when it comes to keeping up with last-minute changes to sports programming and live event schedules. This makes them a reliable audience when using sports TV inventories to advertise your business to an engaged viewing audience. Even though live sports schedules are subject to change and operating in flux amid the ongoing pandemic, there is an opportunity to grow your brand through a nimble sports advertising strategy. Here are three tips to steer your ad strategy toward success.


The current sports TV market is as diverse as ever. While the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL all in action at the present moment, other niche leagues ranging from the ATP to the LPGA to Formula 1 racing are all receiving live broadcasts on major cable TV channels.

Evolving sports news is creating new ad opportunities on a near-daily basis. Weeks after the college football season began, the Big 10 Conference announced its decision to play a shortened schedule slated to begin at the end of October. This decision will inevitably create a new ad opportunity wherever Big 10 games are broadcast, including on the Big 10 Network.

A savvy sports advertising strategy will keep up on these changes and look for events and ad blocks that offer exceptional value to their brand. You can also use Cox Media’s Daily Sports Snapshot to keep up on sports ad opportunities that may be relevant for your business.


If you’ve paid any attention to the ratings for certain sports TV events, including headlining events such as the NFL’s opening weekend and the NBA’s conference finals, you might notice that the ratings numbers for these events are down from what they earned in years’ past. But focusing only on the ratings for these two sports programs overlooks an important dynamic that’s likely affecting their performance: All of these leagues are going up against one another at the same time, instead of spreading their premier events and tournaments across a 12-month calendar.

The Hollywood Reporter notes, for example, that while the NFL’s opening night game suffered a dip in its live audience from the same night in 2019, overall sports viewership on TV that night increased compared to the year before. More fans are tuning in than before—the only difference is that they’re watching a wider range of sports programming.

Because the sports TV schedule has been jumbled together, with leagues and events piled on top of one another on the TV viewer’s calendar, businesses should be wary of gauging the value of individual televised events based on their audience in recent years.

In fact, the opposite strategy may offer benefits: By eschewing historical ratings and using TV to build brand awareness through the most economical programming possible, your business might be able to uncover unprecedented value in its live sports ad strategy. To maximize this value, consider working with a trusted ad partner that can account for these new variables and offer reliable ad analysis.


Live sports is the crown jewel when it comes to advertising to sports audiences, but the surrounding content is well worth targeting in your business advertising strategy. These pre- and post-game shows typically draw the same types of audiences and earn strong ratings, but the ad inventory for these programs can be much cheaper than live sports contests—which may offer excellent value for your business.

Channels like ESPN and Fox Sports offer this supplemental programming around the clock, but you can also find this pre- and post-game content on any channel where live sporting events are broadcast.

Overwhelmed by your options? Don’t be. A nimble, value-focused sports advertising strategy is well within reach—contact us today to see how we can help.

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