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MBPT Spotlight: Whoomp! There It Is--TV Sports Fans Are Prime Target For Music Marketers

A recent report by Nielsen says music and sports are natural complements to one another, with music having become engrained in the tradition of many sporting events. In addition to the tradition of fans singing songs led by public address announcers at stadiums, the report points out that many of today's biggest recording artists are performing at live sporting events, at the halftime of football and basketball games or following baseball games.

The report talks about how many sports fans are also big music fans, about how certain types of music are more popular with fans, and details how NFL Super Bowl halftime performances by recording artists result in immediate boosts of song and album sales.

"The Super Bowl halftime show is nearly as famous as the event itself, and its headliners are always greatly anticipated by music and sports fans alike," the report states. "These performances provide so much exposure that they're typically followed by significant spikes in sales the week after the event. The Olympic Games' Opening and Closing ceremonies, the World Cup, the NBA and NHL All-Star games and other events feature big-time live performances."

The 2010 World Cup's official song, "This Time For Africa," sung by Shakira and featuring Freshlyground, sold 1.7 million tracks in the U.S. alone, according to the report. Hank Williams Jr.'s famed"All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night" remake of "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" that served as the Monday Night Football opening theme song from 1989 through 2011, helped revive the original song's sales to the tune of 254,000 downloads.

Similarly, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' reworked their "I Hate Myself For Loving You" lyrics for Sunday Night Football, which helped the original track sell more than 581,000 downloads to date. And when Faith Hill started singing the remade version of "Waiting All Day for Sunday Night" as the opening song for NBC's telecasts, it was so popular she stayed on to perform it for six years until she "passed the baton" to Carrie Underwood.

Other examples cited in the report: Jim Jones remixed "We Fly High" into a "New York Giants Remix," and the original song has sold more than 1.6 million digital downloads to date; and Wiz Khalifa's "Black and Yellow," titled after the colors of his hometown football team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, sold more than 4.1 million units and has been streamed more than 20 million times.

Following the most recent Super Bowl, after Matchbox 20 performed their song "She's So Mean" during the pregame show, sales of that song rose by 30% the following week. And following the mini reunion of Destiny's Child during Beyoncé's halftime performance, sales of all the group's songs, including those not performed on TV during the telecast, rose 248% in the week following the telecast.

Dollars and Sense
All these examples raise a question: Performances during, or tie-ins with sports telecasts aside, why aren't more recording artists and their labels promoting sales of their songs and tracks through commercials on sports telecasts throughout the year? Why aren't more agencies that represent recording artists and record labels including sports telecast TV commercials in their media plans and buys?

TV sports telecasts are loaded with commercials for cars, beer, insurance, fast food restaurants and wireless phones. But you rarely see a commercial by an artist or record label hawking a song or album.

The report says rock and country music in particular fit in well with the TV sports viewer. "The energetic genres simply resonate well with the audience," the report says. "TV sports viewers are 42% more likely to purchase alternative country music than the average adult Internet users, and they are 23% and 16% more likely to purchase hard rock/heavy metal and rock. These sports TV viewers are not only passionate about sports, but passionate about music as well."

Also of note in the report: "Sports fans are 18% more likely than the average adult Internet user to purchase live concert tickets online," again indicating that "when artists get involved with sports, they're actually reaching some of music's biggest fans—a big opportunity for reach and exposure."

With all sorts of ways to download music today, it seems like most recording artists are missing out on a significant opportunity to reach a potentially untapped fan base on a regular basis by promoting their music on TV sports telecasts.