Baseball with Headset

baseball ball with headset or headphones 3D rendering

Call it a home run, a hole-in-one or any sports metaphor you like. According to research presented in the latest entry of Westwood One's “Everyone's Listening” blog, play-by-play audio scores with a more attentive, more passionate and more upscale listener.

“Sports play-by-play audio offers advertisers increased engagement, especially among the growing audience of those interested in fantasy sports and online gambling, and drives massive incremental reach and frequency amplification, making sports TV campaigns better,” Cumulus Media Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says.

The attentiveness measure comes from a fall 2021 MARU/Matchbox study of more than 1,500 respondents age 13+ which, according to Westwood One's analysis, shows that not only are over-the-air AM/FM radio listeners least likely to tune out ads – with more than one-third saying they “never” do so, or do “less than half the time” – but three of four listeners (76%) to sports-formatted stations say they pay “extremely or very close attention” while listening, the highest for any format.

Analyses of additional 2021 data from MARU/Matchbox and MRI-Simmons suggest that compared to sports watchers on TV, listeners to sports on AM/FM are not only younger and more upscale, they also display more passion for sports, with a greater likelihood of attending sports events, betting on sports or participating in fantasy sports. “Across a variety of engagement measures, audio sports listeners have the passion advantage,” Bouvard says. “While the sports TV audience is more casual, the play-by-play sports listener is leaning in and more engaged with the content.”

When it comes to reach, the blog makes the case that, based on Nielsen's and NFL research, play-by-play audio adds millions of listeners as any sport's season progresses, while hitting consumers who are hard to reach via TV. “Regardless of play-by-play sport, whether baseball, football, or basketball, reach accumulates throughout the season; every game, there are new listeners,” Bouvard says. “Advertisers can utilize the mass accumulation of reach throughout the season in sports play-by-play to build their brand and drive sales effect.”

The ever-growing sports betting ad category seems to be a perfect match for play-by-play audio, based on Westwood One's analysis of MARU/Matchbox data showing those very or somewhat interested in sports betting are more likely to be heavy AM/FM listeners (four in ten with this level of interest) vs. heavy TV viewers (three in ten). Additionally, those with that level of interest are also more likely to be college graduates and have a $75k-$100k income and children. It's also notable that AM/FM sports radio listeners participating in sports betting or fantasy sports are significantly more likely to have used a sports app or visited a sports website on a mobile phone in the last 30 days, and to have attended sports games.