As a result, the analysis finds sports are no longer the most efficient way to reach adult male viewers.
In an analysis of weekend sports, prime time, early evening news and late-night daypart costs, BJK&E found that sports was the most efficient place to reach men ages 18 to 49 and men ages 25 to 54-the two primary demographic targets used by TV sports advertisers-in the 1989-90 TV season.
But by the 1993-94 TV season, only prime time remained a more expensive daypart to reach men 18 to 49 and men 25 to 54.
BJK&E attributed the rise primarily to the escalating costs of sports rights fees for the networks, which are passed on to advertisers.
The agency noted that efficiency is not always the primary reason advertisers buy TV sports programming.
Overall, broadcast and cable networks are now paying about $1.7 billion annually for rights to televise NFL, NBA, college football and basketball, and NHL hockey coverage, a 30% increase over the more than $1.3 billion spent annually under previous contracts.
The beneficiary of increased rights fees appears to be basic cable TV. In the nine year span from the 1984-85 to 1993-94 TV seasons, the number of hours the average household watched national TV sports increased 12% overall, but was up 86% on basic cable TV channels and declined 7% on broadcast networks and 37% in syndication.
Joe Mandese coordinates MediaWorks.