It would seem, given the pent-up demand for live sports amid pandemic lockdowns, NBCUniversal wouldn’t need to convince advertisers just how desperate viewers are for the return of their favorite leagues. But the peacock is going out to the marketplace with new data from a deprivation study it conducted during COVID-19 to show just how irreplaceable live sports are, in case some brands were looking to try to find viewers elsewhere.
“As viewership is migrating to streaming platforms, it is important to show brands there are certain TV experiences that still matter, and matter more than anything to viewers,” says Dan Lovinger, exec VP, advertising sales, NBC Sports Group.
According to a study conducted by NBCU, 82 percent of respondents said it’s hard to live without sports; 72 percent are more positive toward brands that advertise in sports compared with brands that don’t; and 69 percent are more likely to buy from companies that advertise in sports programming.
The study comes as uncertainties linger around the return of several sports leagues, which are only amplified by this week’s news about a COVID-19 outbreak inside the Miami Marlins just days into the Major League Baseball season.
Of course, it’s not shocking that viewers feel a loyalty to their favorite sports and have been pining for their return following COVID-19 lockdowns. MLB's opening day game on ESPN between the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals last week averaged 4 million viewers, making it the most-watched regular season game since 2011. NASCAR’s first race in May averaged 6.3 million viewers on Fox. Viewers were so desperate for sports during the pandemic, that even the first round of ESPN’s virtual draft in April brought in 15.6 million viewers, making it by far the most-watched ever.
While advertisers are certainly looking for these eyeballs and are just as anxious about the return of live sports as viewers, plenty of questions linger regarding the stability of their own businesses and just how successful leagues like the National Basketball Association, college football and the National Football League will be in starting their seasons.