CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- In watching the chaos that time-shifted, ad-skipping viewing has rained down on prime-time TV advertisers in recent years, many beer-marketing executives have expressed relief, roughly paraphrased, in something like these terms: "Thank goodness most of our budgets are tied up in sports, where we don't have to worry about all that."
But a first-of-its-kind deal between MillerCoors and TiVo suggests those concerns are finally reaching sports marketers' radar. The deal calls for Coors Light's branding and messaging to appear on TiVo viewers' screens whenever they are deleting, pausing, fast-forwarding or rewinding Coors Light content.*
MillerCoors describes the deal as a complement to its long-running status as the official beer of the NFL, a platform from which it bombards football fans with those fake press-conference ads starring former NFL coaches, rather than as insurance in case those ads get skipped.
"We don't look at it as an either-or question, because the consumer is in the middle," said Jackie Woodward, VP-marketing services. "We're looking at it as another way to engage consumers with Coors Light's official sponsorship [as the NFL's official beer]."
Pro sports are far less prone to time-shifting than other types of programming. Only 20% of first-run football viewing is done on a time-shifted basis, according to TiVo StopWatch data. That's half of the 40% rate for all viewing, and only a third of the 61% afflicting prime time.
"It's true that sports are much less time-shifted than anything other than news," said Todd Juenger, TiVo's VP-general manager for audience, research and measurement. "But it's 20%, and that's not zero."
Mr. Juenger also noted that there are key differences between the ways viewers use time-shifting with sports. While prime-time programming might sit in a DVR for days before being watched, 91% of sports time-shifting occurred during a single day, and 77% occurred with an hour.
And the average time-shifter hits the pause button 5.5 times per broadcast, which suggests they're hitting pause while they get up for a beer, a bathroom run or some housework, and likely skipping ads as they try to catch up to the action in real time.
Under this deal, TiVo users will be prompted with an opportunity to visit a Coors Light NFL Showcase, which will feature behind-the-scenes footage from the press-conference ads, consumer-generated versions of those ads and information on promotions, such as the brewer's long-running Super Bowl ticket giveaway.
The deal covers every NFL game through the Super Bowl, which means consumers could theoretically find themselves looking at Coors Light branding while rewinding for another look at an Anheuser-Busch spot. (A-B is the only brewer with commercial time during the Super Bowl broadcast, although Coors Light is the big game's official beer.)
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Coors Light branding would appear during all time-shifting of NFL content; the deal calls only for Coors' branding and messages to appear during time shifting of Coors Light content.