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Level Playing Field

January 30th, 2015

Over the coming weeks the UK will see a further highly competitive auction round of the rights to the Premier League. With the value of sport (and particularly) football as a driver of pay TV subscriptions, and the focus of major telecom and pay TV operators on providing complete packages to consumers, it seems highly likely that the final prices generated will see a further substantial increase to the cost of rights.

Over the last decade this flow of increasing cost has also affected the sponsorship rights paid by consumer companies for sport. Despite on and off the pitch sport often generating headlines which are at least uncomfortable in not incompatible with sponsors own corporate ethics and aims, the bandwagon has continued to grow.

Yet as a result of the increasing movement of sport behind paywalls the actual visibility provided for sponsors has and continues to shrink. As a category it long ago shrunk well below 10% of total viewing, even for the male and young demographics who find broadcast audiences difficult to find.

Maybe because it is an easy investment for the international head offices of advertisers and their communication advisors, it makes for easier top down decisions than using the other 90% of broadcast to get their message across. Yet feature films, dramas and factual programmes offer significant on screen opportunities often at a fraction of the cost of sport. The process and decision making are undoubtedly more complicated but in general broadcast regulations now allow good placement.

More advertisers should look across their communication investment at the cost versus exposure using common metrics to understand the number of people impacted and the frequency/ associations of the messages. Many would find significant surpises.

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