How to Engage Live Sports Audiences this Upfront

The Upfronts may be back in Manhattan this year, but much has changed since networks last hosted the all-important event in person (seemingly a lifetime ago in May 2019). Not only has the way viewers consume TV completely transformed, but so has the way the industry measures and values TV itself. As advertisers gear up for this Spring's Upfronts, one thing is certain: live TV will continue to play an important role.

Recently, we talked about Attention as a reliable metric for cross-media valuation and measurement that goes beyond traditional TV ratings. This week, we'll be digging deeper into how to use Attention to find engaged viewers in one of the most important live TV categories—live sports. Note, these insights and more are available in TVision and Mediahub Worldwide's new 2022 Upfront Planning Guide.

Find the Most Engaged Live TV Viewers

Live television has historically been a significant part of the Upfront, and all signs indicate that 2022 will be no exception. Since the start of the pandemic, Attention and Viewability are both generally increasing across linear TV—including Sports and News. For buyers who want to make the most of this growing opportunity during this year’s Upfront, it is important to fully understand where, how, and when to engage their audiences. TVision’s Attention data can help brands evaluate which live TV media investments pack the biggest punch for engagement.

Upfront Live Programming on the Rise

Live Sports Programming


Which Sport Has the Most Engaged Fans?

The NFL may have some of the largest audiences, but when it comes to Attention, baseball has some of the most dedicated fans. Major League Baseball captures the most engagement among major sports programming, followed by College Baseball--both scoring higher than NFL Football. Note that College Baseball and the WNBA have the smallest audiences among the five highest-Attention sports. However, these sports have highly engaged viewers and may provide brands with some more cost-effective opportunities to make an impact.

Upfront Top Five Sports by Attention


How to Maximize Major Sporting Events for Engagement

Each year, advertisers spend millions and millions to have their ads air during the Super Bowl. And with good reason. Even with sports viewership down in the wake of the pandemic, major NFL events continue to index well above average for viewer Attention. As you can see in the chart below, the big game outpaces all other major NFL events, but it certainly isn't the only chance marketers have to make a big impact with engaged fans. 

Upfront NFL Events by Attention

As we discussed in a previous blog post about the Upfronts: not all impressions are equal. When looking more closely at viewer engagement during the Super Bowl, it is important to note that Attention can vary significantly by game part. 

As a general rule, the halftime show keeps viewers’ eyes glued to the screen more consistently than the game itself--though this can change depending on the show’s level of star power. For instance, this year's star-studded show featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem & Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige delivered record-breaking attention, whereas last year’s halftime show featuring the Weeknd with no special guests commanded less attention compared to other Super Bowl shows. 

Super Bowl Attention

In terms of the game itself, the second quarter is typically a safe bet for Attention, while Attention in later quarters is more beholden to the score of the game. This year's Super Bowl between the Rams and Bengals maintained high attention from quarter to quarter as the score remained neck and neck, and the lead changed three times.  Similarly, 2020’s Super Bowl kept viewers on the edge of their seats in the fourth quarter as the Kansas City Chiefs rallied in the eleventh hour and won their first Super Bowl since 1970. By contrast, 2019's big game saw Attention drop off in the second half as the score remained stagnant.  To make the most of premium ad placements for major sporting events, advertisers can look to Attention to ensure their ad dollars are positioned to reach the most engaged audiences throughout the game.

Marketing Tip: Keep Score of Sports Viewers

  • Use engagement and ratings data to create a balanced mix of advertising across sports, including college and professional.
  • Track performance of your campaigns over the season and allocate or adjust spending to adapt to changing viewer behaviors, which teams are gaining an edge on the competition, and which have the most engaged fans.
  • Want more Super Bowl insights? Replay our 2022 Super Bowl Webinar to find out which ads scored touchdowns for audience attention in the big game.

Want More Must-Know Upfront Insights? 

The Upfront may be transforming, but attention data provides the transparency needed to navigate the changing landscape with confidence. Both marketers and media sellers can improve the Upfront process by better understanding the value of each impression. For more actionable insights, download the full Upfront Planning Guide

TVision is offering free 1:1 planning workshops to help you maximize the impact of your Upfront. Marketers will receive a custom Upfront diagnostic and action plan, including a preview of their top five opportunities for attention. Sign up today to claim your spot.

Upfront Guide