If you build it, they will come—and with the addition of new sports networks/on demand options and sports content made available last year, the ad dollars were there to fill. National TV sports generated $10.9 billion in advertising last year, compared to $10.3 billion one year prior, according to Nielsen’s State of the Media: Year in Sports. Measuring ad spend during sporting events on network and cable TV from Q4 2010 through Q3 2011, Nielsen also saw that cable has an increasing share of those ad dollars—growing 37.3% YOY compared to 5.9% for sports ad spending in general.
Pro football seems to be leading the pack: A recent Harris Poll ranking of sports fan favorites puts the pro football comfortably at the top with a 36% share, up 5% from 2010 and 12% from 1985.
TV sports advertising is dominated by a few big spenders, with the top 10 — led by AT&T, Bud Light, Verizon Wireless, McDonald’s and DIRECTV—accounting for roughly a quarter (26%) of the total spend during that time period.
The increase in TV ad spend mirrors a similar increase in the amount of live TV sports content available on TV and cable. There were more than 42,500 hours of live sporting events on national broadcast and cable TV in 2011, a 5% increase over 2010.