With Sports Sputtering and Live Events Going Virtual, Where Are Brands Going?

After months of being sidelined due to COVID-19 restrictions, major league sports began their return to competition in July as MLB, NBA and NHL games all once again returned to the airwaves. The NFL recently joined a patchwork of college football conferences choosing to play, while others withdrew from the season. At the same time that sports leagues struggle to gain their footing and regain their shrinking TV audiences – we've found that more than half (54%) of 2019 football viewing households on linear TV did not tune in to linear TV to watch any games during 2020’s opening week -- major live events and awards ceremonies have also moved to virtual set-ups, cancelled altogether or delayed their broadcast until at least 2021.  

Alison Levin, VP of Ad Revenue and Marketing Solutions, Roku

Alison Levin,  VP of Ad Revenue and Marketing Solutions, Roku (Image credit: Roku)

These two forces – delayed sports and condensed seasons along with diminished tentpole live activations have bled traditional pay television of two of the most valuable areas for both audience engagement as well as marketer monetization. With the lack of the sports and live events one-two punch disrupting long-held marketing plans, brands are seeking to adapt to a new world that has seemingly been remade in just a matter of months. The good news for brand marketers is that change is everywhere. While audiences are abandoning traditional pay television, they are not in fact abandoning all video content. Streaming hours are surging and the underlying audience targeting technology of streaming platforms was tailor built to help marketers navigate today’s fragmented media environment. 

At the same time, we’re seeing marketers develop innovative new strategies to deliver exceptional brand experiences that both delight and engage consumers in ways never before possible with traditional cable television.   

There is no doubt that streaming is not only a place where brands are looking to make a splash, but where sports fans are looking to view their favorite teams moving forward.  Leading brands are going a step further to personalize the message and offer the consumer a truly valuable engagement -- that’s an award-winning play. 

Roku pioneered streaming to the TV, connecting users to the streaming content they love, enabling content publishers to build and monetize large audiences, and providing advertisers with unique capabilities to engage consumers. 

Alison Levin

VP, ad sales and strategy, Roku