SBD/February 10, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Data Shows Cable Sports Continues To Draw Advertisers, Viewers

Data from ESPN, News Corp. and Turner Broadcasting indicates that "advertisers are clamoring to play with cable sports," according to CABLEFAX DAILY. Walt Disney Co. last night said that ESPN's ad revenue "swelled 34% last quarter on notable demand for NFL programming." Even without the newly acquired BCS telecasts, the "increase was 27%, compared to 19%" during the prior quarter. Disney Chair & CEO Bob Iger said, "It's safe to assume that the sports advertising marketplace is extremely robust." Similarly, News Corp.'s cable networks "delivered a 17% jump in ad sales last quarter on particular strength at the RSNs, and Fox enjoyed solid results owing partly to higher NFL ratings." News Corp. Deputy Chair, President & COO Chase Carey said, "The power of the local sports continues to drive momentum at our regional sports networks." Carey noted that MLB ratings "rose 9% during the latest season, Big 12 college football's 13% and early basketball ratings are up 13%" compared to a year ago. Time Warner's "domestic nets alone deliver 4Q organic ad rev growth in the high teens aided by TNT's NBA coverage, which is scoring with viewers and advertisers alike" this season. Time Warner Exec VP & CFO John Martin "expects Turner's 1st-year coverage of March Madness to net a similar slam dunk." Needham analyst Laura Martin noted that "more than 40K hours of sports programming aired on TV in '10," up from approximately 10,000 hours in '00, and the "most-watched programming on cable last year was sports." Twenty-three of the "top 30 cable telecasts in '10 in total viewership featured sports, including the NFL on ESPN and NFL Net (which combined to take the initial 13 spots), MLB on TBS and college football on ESPN" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 2/10). Iger characterized ESPN's current quarter "as 'gangbusters,' adding that the strength of the ad market should continue for the foreseeable future" (ADWEEK.com, 2/9).
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