"We Fan Together." Spectrum Reach Leads Advertisers Back into the Game

By Spectrum Reach InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: "We Fan Together." Spectrum Reach Leads Advertisers Back into the Game

After taking a timeout, professional sports have returned, and fans are in for a sports bonanza. For brands eager to reach these engaged, enthusiastic consumers, Spectrum Reach, the advertising sales business of Charter Communications, says TV should be part of their advertising game plan.

"Fans' passion for sports and their teams are stronger than ever," noted Caswell Huff (pictured at top), vice president of field marketing for Spectrum Reach. "They had to go without, and it creates more demand."

The COVID-19 pandemic forced professional and college sports to shut down in mid-March, but now leagues such as MLS, MLB, the NBA, and NHL have made triumphant returns. Add in the NFL, PGA TOUR, US Open Tennis, plus NASCAR, and fans will finally have hundreds of hours of live sports.

Of course, with truncated seasons and fan-less games, the action will look different. Still, sports-starved consumers are expected to tune-in in droves. In fact, 88 percent of avid fans say they plan to watch as much sports as possible, according to an ESPN survey.

To get in front of these fans, Spectrum Reach offers advertisers opportunities in its local markets, as well as bundling for regional and national reach. And, cable carries more live sports than any other media platform, Huff noted. Before the COVID-19 shutdowns, 93 percent of live sports aired on local cable, according to Nielsen, and cable networks will again carry a vast majority of the action.

Even without sports, Americans have been watching a lot of TV. Since March, there has been a 63 percent increase in time spent viewing, per Kantar, and an 83 percent bump in streaming video usage, as reported by Nielsen. Even a taste of sports content generated huge ratings. The NFL Draft, ESPN's The Last Dance documentary series and even NASCAR e-races attracted hordes of starved fans. Additionally, ESPN's MLB Opening Night set records and new standards for viewership.

Recently, as live sports have trickled back, including baseball, hockey, golf, NASCAR and soccer, Huff said viewership has been strong and even first-time viewers are sampling the action. Looking ahead, viewers await NFL action, and, in 2021, the return of NCAA's March Madness and the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics.

"These are going to be great opportunities for the sports leagues and advertisers," Huff said. "Live sports have proven to be a brand-safe environment and that's been a challenge for businesses."

But there are hurdles. The massive influx of sports and the myriad of opportunities may be overwhelming for some advertisers. Also, the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent events have prompted some advertisers to reimagine their messaging or pull back entirely. The sports advertising market – and TV advertising in general – have been extremely disrupted.

During the sports hiatus, Spectrum Reach used its anonymized and aggregated viewing data to help advertisers who wanted to reach sports fans identify the news and entertainment content that sports fans were watching instead. Now, to help clients navigate their sports options, Spectrum Reach is stepping up its game. Through their "We Fan Together" online resource, local businesses and agencies can access insights, research, and infographics highlighting the formats and key dates of major sports returns.

"We Fan Together" is one example of Spectrum Reach's high-level client services, Huff said. "We're the one-stop shop for the content, data, insights, creative and reporting that you need," he said. As he talks to clients, Huff reports they're asking for assistance determining how and when to advertise. With so many sports on TV at once, Huff sees opportunities in buying new sports leagues and creating custom packages. "You can spread your budget across several sports, be more cost effective and reach more viewers," he noted. "Fans can't gather in the stands, but they can gather in front of the TV."

With Spectrum Reach's new AudienceApp, businesses and agencies can identify and target similar audiences watching sports and other programming. For instance, a small business who advertises in local baseball games can use AudienceApp to determine what other networks and shows fans are watching and then direct ads to that content as well. Spectrum Reach's local sales teams, he added, understand the particulars of their markets, and can support local businesses.

Huff said the last several months have taught his teams the importance of flexibility and information. "We've adapted the way we message, how we talk to clients and the resources that we share," he said.

As a trusted partner, they've also made it a point to constantly monitor for schedule changes that may impact their advertisers' campaigns. Some new categories are increasing their TV spend, including home improvement, legal services, medical and cleaning services.

"There's so much intrigue right now." he said. "The bond that people have with their teams and their communities is going to be tighter than ever."

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