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Get in the Game: The Changing Sports Media Landscape

By Audacy Insights Team

Whether you’re into touchdowns, runs, goals, or baskets, you know that sports programming holds a uniquely important spot in the media landscape. While it can be challenging to follow the bouncing ball – or puck, or shuttlecock! – in this ever-shifting space, marketing to sports fans remains a winning proposition for just about any brand. 

Even as the offerings become more fragmented and the entire media landscape continues to be disrupted, sports programming stands firmly positioned at the intersection of passion and urgency. Combined with its desirable audience, its scale enables sports to remain alone at the top, delivering the value to fans, and importantly brands, looking to reach them.

Jason Newman
SVP, Marketing Solutions, Audacy

Let’s take a look at how audience behaviors and consumption patterns are changing, how content creators are telling today’s stories, how the pool of influencers is increasing dramatically, how sports betting and wagertainment are driving new levels of fan engagement – and how brands can most effectively engage with sports fans using the power of Audio. 

Hello, sports fans!

Die-hard sports fans have always been a valuable audience for marketers. They’re engaged, and they tend to hold a lot of purchasing power. 

Today’s sports fans are still interested in the big, live games – think NFL, NBA, and MLB – but they’re also following emerging sports – everything from cricket to pickleball, and they’re also showing a greater interest in non-live sports content like sports talk, analysis, and podcasts. The sports fan is showing up in more and more places, so it might seem challenging to reach your target audience. But there’s one play that’s a proven winner: Audio. 

With 53% of sports Audio listeners describing themselves as superfans, Audio beats all other media to reign supreme on all the playing fields.

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Get inspired with sports storytelling

Sure, sports fans want to see the action, and they want to know the scores. But they also want compelling, authentic stories about their teams, their favorite athletes, and the behind-the-scenes looks that enhance their experience and make them feel connected to the players and games they love.

Indeed, we’re craving more inspiring sports content, and podcast listeners are way more likely to want to hear more about athletes’ life stories. 

Sports fans are 42% more likely to want more inspiring sports content
Sports fans who listen to podcasts are 2X more likely to want more ‘athlete’s life stories’

An interesting spin on this approach is when athletes decide to take control of their own stories and become their own brands.

You see more and more athletes as producers on their own docuseries and hosting their own podcasts and taking control over their own voices, and monetizing that. That’s a big and important shift. And there’s an increased emphasis on local in sports podcasting, and emerging sports beyond major men’s sports.

Lena Glaser
VP and Executive Producer of 2400Sports, Audacy

When you can uncover new ways to integrate your brand into the stories sports fans crave, you’re on your way to building a trusted relationship with the audiences you crave. 

An influx of influencers

Radio and podcast hosts bring us all the latest sports news, but they also serve as a modern watercooler where fans can have a voice in chatting about their favorite sports. They know the games, the players, and the communities. These local hosts have a hometown advantage over national voices in connecting with Audio listeners and sharing the stories fans want to hear, and more importantly, the voice that fans trust. 

Athletes and hosts have long held the mantle as the most effective influencers for brands. But recently, changes in the legal landscape have opened the door to a whole new pool of influencers and brand ambassadors: college athletes. 

These aren’t amateurs – they’re billion-dollar industries. It’s still the Wild West, but it’s the path for college athletes to start following, and it’s the  path for colleges and athletic departments to start championing.

Tiki Barber
Host of WFAN Tiki & Tierney

It’s also the path for brand marketers to start exploring, especially when brand ambassador talent deals with these up-and-coming stars can be more affordable than with major league athletes. 

Placing the winning bet on sports betting

Sports betting and wagertainment are driving new levels of fan engagement around our favorite sports. And what’s especially exciting for marketers is that it’s becoming an entryway for fans to learn about and get interested in players, games, and even sports that might not have otherwise caught their attention. 

As a result, sports bettors are increasingly tuning in to Audio to find their tribes – the communities where they can engage, hear tips, talk, and even compete. We’re seeing it on our own BetQL network, the home of wagertainment. Fans can’t get enough, and consumption metrics across this multimedia platform keep climbing.

If you’re an advertiser, you love the idea that theoretically 39% of these people are going to tune in to a game between two last place teams if they’ve got money invested in the outcome or some of the players. It raises the level of engagement across the board.

Tim McGhee
SVP of Strategic Partnerships, Sweet

Sports marketing with Audio – FTW 

The next step for marketers is to start thinking about the most effective ways to tap into the evolving sports audience. 

Today, live games, sports talk, and podcasts serve as strong content mediums for fans across just about every sport, from football to pickleball. And they still want more. A whopping 43% of sports Audio listeners say that more sports scores and updates will make their sports media experience better.

We look at sports as one of the last frontiers for mass reach and mass engagement. It’s a valuable place to be. Make sure it’s a part of your consideration as you communicate and try to drive purchasing decisions. Do your homework, be prepared to invest, but also make sure you’ve got a measurement plan in place to tie back to delivering results.

Jared Merrell
Managing Director, Optimum Sports

To learn more, check out our recent webinar panel with media and marketing greats, Sports Media Landscape

Want to talk more about reaching your target audience?

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SOURCES

Audacy Sports Survey, n=1000, P18+, June 2022

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