In the year 2023, if there’s anything most American sports fans can rally around, it’s the notion that streaming services have made following pro and college sports more expensive, more frustrating, and more confusing.
However, if there’s a silver lining in seeing your favorite team’s games get split between Amazon, Apple, Peacock, Hulu, Paramount+, and YouTube, it’s that you might not see as many political ads over the next year and a half.
Via Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams, as more sports leagues cut deals with streaming services, it’s creating problems for political campaign media buyers that want to take advantage of the captive audience. That’s a big deal as sports offer pretty clear political leanings with specific sports audiences.
“In terms of partisanship trends, we see college sports traditionally do really well against high-turnout Republican voters,” said Ben Angle, who does ad buying for Republicans at National Media Research, Planning & Placement. “NFL does well against both parties, [and the] NBA tends to skew toward Democrats.”
However, as those audiences are fragmented across streaming services, coupled with the lack of commercials or the ability to pay for ad-free experiences, it’s going to challenge politicians in their ability to reach voters.
“Whether or not political campaigns will be able to run on all of the apps that have locked in some of those live sporting events is yet to be seen,” said Jesse Contario, regional vice president with MiQ’s political team.
However, don’t get too excited about the prospect of not seeing politicians say dumb things during your sporting events. If there’s any group that will figure out how to get their message out, regardless of the medium, it’s people in politics.
“You are going to have to be moving into streaming, whether or not you want to or not. You have to in order to be able to reach voters,” said Democratic consultant Tim Lim, president of Lim Consulting Services.
Lim noted that the solution might simply be money and that adding another 20% to 25% to a campaign TV budget will ensure viewers get to see the same political ad over and over and over again, whether it’s on local TV, ESPN, or Peacock.