Pro Sports Generated $100M in Ad Revenue Since Return

Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket past Shake Milton #18 of the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half in Game Three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at The Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 21, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Sponsors are back as the NBA plays in the bubble (Image credit: Kim Klement - Pool/Getty Images)

Since major league sports have returned to television in July, advertisers have pumped nearly $100 million into the coffers of the national networks, according to an analysis by MediaRadar.

MediaRadar found that 527 brands have advertised during games since play resumed.

Of the top 100 advertisers on National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League games before COVID-19 shut sports down in March,, 83% have returned between July 23 and Aug. 15.

Among the companies that did not return were Microsoft, LVMH, Expedia and Sprint, according to MediaRadar. 

Brands that are new to sports include Quibi, Biden for President and Slack.

“There have been several changes in the makeup of advertisers that are buying these ads,” said Todd Krizelman, CEO and co-founder of MediaRadar. “For example, financial firms and alcohol brands are now making up a larger share of the spend during return to play.”

Travel advertisers, who had accounted for 2.1% of ad spending in NHL, NBA and MLB games, have accounted to 0.2% since the return.

“Networks have done a good job retaining their top sports advertisers,” said Krizelman. “Looking at the top 25 advertisers, pre-COVID, across airings of  each league's games, both the MLB and NBA have seen 23 returns, while the NHL saw 24.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.