Subscriber Login

Log In


More Stories

Study quantifies radio play-by-play premium.


Sports play-by-play delivers some of the biggest audiences in radio.  But gross rating points don’t tell the whole story.  Listeners to live sporting events are highly desirable to advertisers based on their income, education, activities and purchases.  A new study from GfK MRI and Research Director, Inc. quantifies their qualitative profile.   And why stations should charge a premium for in-game ads.

Six of the eight sports in the survey have a greater proportion of play-by-play listeners with a household income of $100,000 or more than in the general population. “Sports fans are upscale but radio play-by-play listeners are even more upscale,” Research Director partner Charlie Sislen said yesterday during a webinar.  They’re also more likely to be the decision maker when it’s time to buy a new vehicle and to have visited a fast food or family restaurant six times or more in the last 30 days.

The data provides ammo to sellers targeting financial institution advertisers, a big buyer of sports on TV.  People with investments of at least $150,000 are more than twice as likely to listen to pro baseball or college football on radio as the general population.  Sports play-by-play listeners are far more likely to have a 401(k), money market funds, own stock and have investments totaling $250,000 or more. They’re 25% more likely to have graduated college and 26% more likely to be employed full time.

Debunking some myths, the study finds the activities of play-by-play listeners go well beyond hanging out in sports bars.  They’re 66% more likely to have attended a country concert, 59% more likely to have hit a rock show and 32% more likely to have seen a live theater performance than the general population in the last 12 months.

Sislen says the findings present a strong case for stations charging a higher premium for in-game advertising and for differentiating play-by-play programming from run of the mill music stations.  “The problem is that buyers are using Arbitron-supplied tools to judge the value of their commercial messages,” he said.  “Putting a cost-per-point on it is not effective and misses a major part of the picture.”

The study shows each sport has a unique fan base and that advertisers who buy, say, Major League Baseball may not be reaching the high school sports listener.  More than four in ten survey respondents say they only listened to one sport on the radio.  Another 25% listened to two and 18% listened to four or more.  The study also provides a response to buyers who say they don’t need in-game spots on radio because they’re already buying them on TV.  Radio play-by-play listeners tend to be heavy radio users and light TV users.  “If they’re advertising only on TV, they’re missing your audience,” Sislen said.  What’s more, those who watch sports on TV are more likely to be over the age of 65 than those who listen to it on radio.

The popularity of different sports varies dramatically from region to region.  New England is big on hockey and baseball while NASCAR does extremely well in the Southeast. The East over-indexes on college hoops. High school sports rule in the West Central and in the Southwest.  There are also differences by county sizes, with professional sports more popular in densely populated counties and high school sports big in rural counties.

Download the study HERE.


Subscribe to INSIDE RADIO and get FREE access to: - featuring Top 100 market revenue estimates for the past two years, AND future projections. – featuring all U.S. and Canadian stations – includes DAILY reports on format and call letter changes

Click HERE for subscription information