top of page

Can Brands Score Big with Live Sports Advertising?

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Streamers are the new home for live sports, offering fans and advertisers big advantages linear TV couldn't.

TV showing ESPN+ streaming chanel

I don't know many people who still pay for cable.

Streaming has completely overtaken the entertainment space for friends, family, and co-workers. It seems everyone has already cut the cord. (Except for my Dad.) His reticence to jump ship and leave traditional TV boils down to one thing: live sports. Until recently, one of the biggest gaps (and complaints) for viewers considering the switch is a lack of access to live sports content. Will I still be able to watch my favorite teams? In the early days of CTV, it was nearly impossible to catch a live game. But that's all changing...

Live sports is soon to become a main course in our streaming media diet.

Why is live sports advertising suddenly popular?


Why is live sports advertising suddenly popular?

Just last year, the NFL and Amazon struck an exclusive, 11-year deal to make Prime Video the "new home for Thursday Night Football (TNF)." Our team got a sneak preview of the TNF ad packages at Amazon offices ahead of time, and pairing the passion of football fans with the power of Amazon's shopper data is a compelling offer. Meanwhile, other media companies are following suit. Warner Bros. Discovery, Disney, Apple, and YouTube are all exploring potential partnerships with leagues to include live sports content in their offerings. On Hulu Live, viewers can see local games and national broadcasts on ESPN, TNT, and TBS. YouTubeTV provides access to NBA TV, the NFL Network, and the Big Ten Network. So what does that mean for advertisers?

Audience Reach and Engagement

Live sports still reign supreme as the most-watched TV broadcasts. The power of the Super Bowl, the World Series, or even a regular season game in August still has an enormous capacity to draw in viewers. Brands have long understood that the sports fan is engaged and deeply loyal - so having access to them via CTV can be a goldmine for marketing teams.

CTV Enables Mix of Ad Formats and Tech

Including live sports content on streaming platforms will give advertisers access to entirely new audiences of dedicated sports fans and enable new ad formats and technologies. This means marketers can

  • reach fans with creative, personalized advertising

  • capitalize on game-time emotions, and even

  • tap into the live event atmosphere in real time.

For example, Ad Age reported that "through audience-based creative, Thursday Night Football enabled national advertisers to segment massive NFL audiences into customized cohorts using Amazon Ads audience insights. As a result, advertisers were able to present tailored creative to audience segments, based on geographic, demographic, and behavioral signals."

Ad revenue for CTV has already increased over 400 percent since 2019...and that was without live sports! Just wait til 2023's numbers come out.

Hollywood Strikes

The dual SAG-AFTRA / WGA strikes raging on in Hollywood have halted all major TV and movie production in the United States. With no new content to offer, streamers and networks could see a dropoff in viewership, and thus become less attractive channels for advertisers.

While the studios and creators work toward negotiating deals to restart production, streamers are scrambling to fill the gaps with unscripted shows and -- you guessed it -- live sports.

In fact, now that streamers are swallowing up all the live sports content a fan could ever need, the decline of linear TV networks may come sooner than we thought.

If your brand hasn't tried live sports advertising yet, time to get it while it's hot.


This piece originally appeared in our weekly Paid Media Insights newsletter. For more tips, research, and analysis; subscribe for free here.

bottom of page