Looking To Reach Millennial Males? Regional Sports Networks Say They’ve Got Game

Marketers looking to target millennials need to be jumping into this season’s regional sports network telecasts of the NBA and NHL, according to Nielsen data compiled by Home Team Sports, which sells ads to national advertisers for the Fox RSNs, some of the Comcast RSNs, MSG and NESN.

The data shows that the NHL and NBA telecasts on the RSNs across the country, during their respective seasons, deliver a more concentrated millennial audience than many of the most-watched broadcast network primetime shows and a higher average concentration than all the broadcast networks combined in primetime.

Nielsen data reveals 27% of local NHL viewers are millennials, ages 15-34, and 23% of local NBA viewers are millennials. The HTS NHL audience overall is about 72% male and 28% female, while its NBA audience is 68% male and 32% female.

The RSN NHL telecasts have a larger percentage of millennials watching than Sunday Night Football (25%); Modern Family (19%); The Voice (17%); The Big Bang Theory (14%); NCIS (6%); and the entire broadcast primetime viewing audience (15%).

The RSN NBA telecasts also have a larger percentage of millennials watching than Modern Family (20%); The Voice (16%); The Big Bang Theory (14%); NCIS (7%); and the entire broadcast primetime viewing audience (15%). The percentages are slightly different because the NHL and NBA regular seasons don’t exactly run concurrently.

For marketers who want to jump into the RSN telecasts, there are plenty avails left. Kyle Sherman, executive VP of HTS, says ad sales for both the NHL and NBA telecasts are about flat compared to last year, with marketers coming on board but at a slower pace than last season.

“Most of our advertisers from last season are back or coming back, but they are just taking a lot longer to put their money down this season,” Sherman says. The NHL regular season got underway last Wednesday, while the NBA season opens on Oct. 28.

Many of the larger national advertisers buy RSN advertising for both the NHL and NBA telecasts and some do so at the same time. Among the top advertisers buying both are AT&T, Taco Bell, KFC, MillerCoors, General Motors and Kia.

Dairy Queen has returned as a major advertiser in the RSN NHL telecasts and was the primary sponsor of the first week of the new NHL season. DQ will also be advertising in the NBA telecasts, Sherman says.

Price increases for both the NHL and NBA telecasts are ranging in the 4%-8% range.

Strongest categories for the NHL telecasts are auto, men’s healthcare, fast food, sporting goods, pharmaceuticals and credit cards.

Those marketers who jumped in before the start of the NHL season got some strong ratings on several opening night RSN telecasts. The Detroit Red Wings drew a 5.6 opening-night household rating for their win over the Boston Bruins on Fox Sports Detroit, up 32% from last season’s opening night rating of 4.2. The Dallas Stars lost their opener but drew a 1.5 household rating on Fox Sports Southwest, which was 149% higher than last year’s season opener.

The Tampa Bay Lighting won in overtime in its opening night game and drew a 1.8 household rating on Sun Sports, up 10% over last season. The Columbus Blue Jackets scored a win over the Buffalo Sabres and drew a 1.4 household rating on Fox Sports Ohio, up 25% from last season’s opener.

The St. Louis Blues scored their highest-rated opener ever on Fox Sports Midwest, a 6.4 household rating, up 32% over last season’s opener (4.9). Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators beat the Ottawa Senators on opening night and drew a 1.2 household rating on Fox Sports Tennessee, up 300% from last season’s opener.

Sherman says ratings aside, ad sales are strong in several regional network markets including Boston, Detroit, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim, in addition to St. Louis and Dallas.

The NBA RSN telecasts don’t begin for another two weeks and Sherman is anticipating late ad dollars coming in close to the opening game tipoff. “We had a large influx of dollars come in for the NHL the week before the season and I believe there will be a swell of ad dollars coming in between now and the start of the NBA season later this month.”

Among the strong NBA RSN ad markets are those for teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat.

Sherman says most advertisers are back supporting the Heat despite the departure of LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He added that AT&T U-Verse, which was a major advertiser on Sun Sports for the Heat games in Miami last season, has kept its dollars in that market, but also made a sizable ad buy following LeBron to Cleveland.