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Live Sports on CTV: The Value You Expect, But Easier Than You Think

Authored by: Neil Smith, VP of CTV Revenue

In advertising, staying ahead of the game requires adaptability, agility, and a keen understanding of where your target audience spends their time. With the ever-expanding landscape of connected TV (CTV) and the transition of top content from linear to streaming environments, it has become crucial for advertisers to recognize the significance of live sports. Live sports on CTV offer a unique opportunity for advertisers to reach diverse and engaged audiences as they shift from legacy platforms and transition into a new wave of viewership.  

The proliferation of streaming platforms has given rise to a wealth of live sports content. In the fall alone, major leagues like the NFL, NBA, MLB, and college sports are in full swing across various apps, platforms, and channels. This multitude of sports events ensures that advertisers have a variety of options to choose from when aligning their brand with specific events and audiences. 

According to Nielsen Fan Insights, 80% of sports fans, 76% of NFL fans, and 89% of soccer fans regularly have or sometimes watched sports on any streaming or online channel this year. Those numbers are expected to continue to grow as Sports viewers across digital environments are expected to increase by 13% this year, according to eMarketer – highlighting the growing popularity of this content across streaming environments.

But it doesn’t come without its challenges, which is why you need to work with a partner who cannot only offer desirable content but also aggregate and simplify the activation process for maximum performance and efficiency. 

Distribution Fragmentation: The Challenge of Multiple Channels and Platforms

As the popularity of live sports on CTV continues to soar, distribution has become increasingly fragmented. Different entities own the ad sales rights to various sports events, making it challenging for advertisers to reach the total addressable market for audiences watching that content across the entire streaming universe. 

Historically, ad sales rights were owned by the TV Programmer and the traditional MVPDs through which the content was distributed. However, a host of virtual MVPDs and FAST platforms distribute TV Programmer content today. These new entrants have both ad sales rights and meaningful audiences. Additionally, many live sports leagues have gone direct-to-consumer with their own CTV streaming offerings. 

Advertisers typically approach one publisher for a direct opportunity, but they are missing out on all other channels that the initial content provider shares distribution rights with, minimizing the total reach of that potential audience. This complexity can be daunting for advertisers, requiring them to navigate a maze of sales channels. Working with a partner like TripleLift, who can aggregate all those pathways, will help extend your campaign and find incremental audiences. 

Accessibility & Scale: Premium Content for All

One of the most attractive aspects of advertising during live sports events is the accessibility and scale it offers. Contrary to the misconception that advertising during live sports requires an exorbitant budget, CPMs for live sports are pretty competitive and comparable to other premium CTV content.

Advertisers with varying budgets can tap into live sports content’s immense reach and impact. The scale of live sports is enormous, allowing advertisers to swiftly reach a massive and diverse audience, especially among younger audiences who have adopted streaming-first methods for watching sports.

Attention and Engagement: The Live Sports Advantage

Live sports viewers are a distinct group, inherently more engaged and attentive. They are emotionally invested in the game, which translates to higher levels of viewer engagement. Advertisers can better capture their audience’s attention by delivering relevant ads during live sports events. Studies show that ads displayed during live sports events have significantly higher performance and engagement compared to ads outside the live environment. A study by EDO showed that the NCAA New Year’s Six bowl games were the top college football games of the year in terms of engagement, with last season’s ads in those games yielding 71% increases in engagement than the prime-time average outside of live sports. This is a testament to the captivated and focused audience that live sports can provide.

Simplify with Live Sports Packages

Clients can opt for live sports packages to simplify the buying process and ensure that advertisers reach a broad sports-loving audience. These packages consolidate the advertising opportunities across sports leagues, channels, content, and distribution partners by providing a one-stop solution for reaching sports enthusiasts across a wide range of live sports content. 

In the world of CTV, capitalizing on live sports content offers a unique opportunity for advertisers to engage with a captivated, broad, and passionate audience. The accessibility, scale, and engagement potential of live sports make it an indispensable avenue for advertisers looking to make a lasting impact. With the right strategy, live sports across CTV can help advertisers score big with their target audience.

Get in the game with TripleLift’s Live Sports offering today!

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