Advertisers Spend $100 Million on Air Time During Pro Sports’ Return

    • From July 23 to Aug. 15, more than 500 marketers combined to spend $100 million on ads.
    • Some companies that advertised during sports before the pandemic have not returned.

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More than 500 companies and causes have combined to spend nearly $100 million dollars on placing advertisements in national broadcasts of live sports since they have returned amid the COVID-19 pandemic, from July 23 to Aug. 15, according to data from MediaRadar reported by Marketing Dive.

Of the 100 marketers whose ads appeared during NBA, MLB and NHL games prior to the pandemic, 83 have returned. Of the other 17, five had been in the top 50 advertisers prior the pandemic.

Among the major brands that have not returned to advertising during sports are Microsoft, Expedia, Sprint and LVMH. Among advertisers during the return of live sports who hadn’t appeared before the pandemic are Joe Biden’s campaign, Slack, and Quibi, which launched in April.

A handful of industries have taken the opportunity to increase their footprint in advertising during NBA, MLB and NHL games. According to MediaRadar’s data, financial services firms expanded their share of the market from 16% before the pandemic to 19%, while alcohol brands grew from 4.9% to 6.6% and services businesses increased from 3.5% to 4.7%. 

The automotive and retailer categories both remained at about a 13% share of the market each.

Travel was among the sectors that decreased their share, cutting its portion of ad spending from 2.1% before the pandemic to 0.2% during the return of sports — major players in the space like Expedia and Marriott did not return. 

The approaching NFL season will also present a significant opportunity for advertisers.

In 2019, 47 of the top 50 and 73 of the top 100 telecasts were NFL games, according to AdAge, and two of the top 50 were college football games, which may or may not happen this year. The league also increased its average viewership by about 800,000 per game from 2018, to 16.5 million. 

CBS is reportedly seeking $5.5 million for each 30-second ad during Super Bowl LV, assuming it happens, which is in line with what Fox got for the event earlier this year. Super Bowl LIV averaged 102 million viewers across multiple channels and streaming services.