Despite record low ratings, the 2018 MLB All-Star Game pulled in the highest ad revenue of any of the major league exhibition games in the past year. According to a new analysis by Kantar Media, the MLB All-Star game generated nearly $45 Million in ad revenue, followed closely by the 2018 NBA All-Star Game. Both the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl and 2017 MLS All-Star Game lagged far behind.
The ad expenditure measured in Kantar Media’s analysis was based on original national TV telecasts, and the ad pricing reflects the variance in audience ratings or each event. Promotional ads from MLS, NFL, NBA, and MLB are not included in the figures for the respective events.
Kantar Media also broke out the top advertisers for each game. AT&T was the most common advertiser across the four games, followed by Berkshire Hathaway.
Jon Swallen, Chief Research Officer at Kantar Media North America shares his insights on these findings with Adotas.
“The TV audience profile for each of these events is different and when marketers determine where they want to advertise they consider the target audience they want to reach with their media buy,” said Jon Swallen. For example, NBA All-Star game viewers are younger, more likely to live in major metropolitan areas and more likely to be non-white as compared to the baseball All-Star game. The variation in top-advertiser lists for these broadcasts is influenced by targeting considerations.
Additionally, for marketers who have corporate sponsorship deals with the sports leagues, the all-star games are an obvious way to exploit those deals and to create activation with consumers. 30% of the commercial time in the July MLB all-star game was from official marketing partners.
As for the disparity in ad spend between the leagues, it comes down to timing and popularity. The NBA and MLB all-star games occur mid-season when fan interest is building and the young all-star talent is beginning to emerge and attract attention, while the NFL Pro Bowl is eclipsed by the Super Bowl the following week in both ratings and ad expenditure. Meanwhile, domestic soccer doesn’t have a mainstream following in the U.S. and MLS ratings are much lower than these other sports for regular and post-season games.