Advertising Week 2006

Tales of TV's Troubles Don't Faze Pro-Sports Commissioners

David Stern, Others Say Their Leagues Push Media Innovation

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- TV audiences are dwindling as other media, diversions and responsibilities fill our busy lives, but commissioners for three sports leagues that depend on TV revenue said today that they aren't worried.
NBA Commissioner David Stern
NBA Commissioner David Stern Credit: AP

That handheld device
For one thing, it will endure as the best mass-market channel for live events; for another, in the words of NBA Commissioner David Stern, fans can now find sports content with technology including the "handheld device formerly known as a cellphone."

Mr. Stern joined Carolyn Bivens, his counterpart as the commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, and Gary Bettman, head of the National Hockey League, at an Advertising Week panel presented by USA Today to talk about growing their sports amid intensifying media upheaval.

"Sports has always led the technological revolution," Mr. Stern said, citing cable and satellite as channels that prospered -- like high-definition TV does today -- partly because of sports programming. Even if mass audiences are slowly splintering, he said, new media widgets let the NBA "accessorize" the games with player info online, mobile alerts when games hit overtime and so on.

Finding the right consumers
Ms. Bivens said TV will remain the core platform for women's golf -- but that technology will increasingly help match the best consumers with the advertisers trying to reach them.

"All fans are not equal," she noted. "All ratings are not equal."
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