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TV Marketplace Update - What Sports Fans Are Watching When They're Not Watching Sports

Matt Collins
Matt Collins
Published: May. 08, 2020

I am an avid viewer of sports on TV. If this were any ordinary spring season, I'd be feasting on coverage of the NBA and NHL playoffs, the first tantalizing weeks of Major League Baseball, golf, horse racing, and all the highlights that go with them. I can't do any of this, of course, but I'm still watching plenty of linear TV.

I'm not alone. Avid viewers of sports on linear TV everywhere are watching a lot of TV. For this week's marketplace update, we've got the data to prove it.

Avid Viewers of Sports are Watching More TV

Here are the charts of the week. Though the chart on the right shows that viewing of sports content on TV has fallen sharply since March 12, the chart on the left clearly shows that overall TV viewing by M18-49 avid sports viewers has held steady if not increased.

Avid Viewers of Sports are Watching More TV

What Are Avid Sports Fans Watching Instead?

We've got two more charts that show the difference in average audience concentration at a network-daypart level before and after March 12. Considering that the sports fan audience is on TV to the same degree if not more than they were prior to March 12, it is striking to see how much more fragmented this audience has become across all networks and dayparts after sports cancellations.

Play with our new dashboard on sports viewers and sports viewing yourself, but here's a sample of how avid sports viewers have changed their viewing since live events started canceling or postponing.

Here is what avid sports viewership looked like prior to March 12. The darker the shade of red, the higher the concentration of avid sports viewers watching that network and daypart:

Heatmap showing TV viewership across the TV landscape by network and daypart prior to March 12 2020.

And here's how it has changed since March 12. Look at how much more red we now see. This shows that sports fans are distributed much more evenly across a wider range of networks and dayparts since live event cancellations began. (Interestingly, we're still tuning into ESPN.)

Heatmap showing impressions delivered across TV networks and all TV dayparts.

"The Equivalent of Getting a Final Four Every Day"

Finding and efficiently maximizing the reach of any audience across 100% national TV inventory no matter what they watch is Simulmedia's super power. This was apparent as Simulmedia helped a client reallocate media budget after the Final Four's cancellation. Sam Bloom, CEO at Camelot Strategic Marketing & Media said, "Simulmedia's ability to find and reach sports viewers when they're not watching sports has delivered an audience that's the equivalent of getting a Final Four every day."

With TV inventory prices falling in general, now may be an ideal time to explore how to reach even more of your audience. If you want to explore what’s possible, we’re here to help.

For those of you eager to see our latest viewership trends, check out our latest interactive charts on viewership, all available for free on Observable.