As TV viewers shift to digital channels, they continue to watch sports the old-fashioned way. Sports programming now accounts for 93% of live TV viewing – a huge change from a decade ago, when that ratio was only 14%.

However, that does not mean brands will benefit from buying ad spots. Even for the most-watched sports events, investments in digital advertising have begun to provide more returns than TV spots. Brand ads during the recent Super Bowl saw lackluster performance, according to L2’s Super Bowl-focused Insight Report. The study finds that TV ads received at most a 25% lift in social impressions – only a fraction of which could be attributed to earned media.

Super Bowl ad costs

Rather than focusing on broadcast ads, the report suggests that brands build digital campaigns around those tent-pole events. For example, Gatorade created a Snapchat lens animating the Super Bowl tradition of “dunking” the sports drink on the victor. The campaign cost only $350,000 per day, allowing the brand to reach the platform’s highly engaged audience at a fraction of the cost of a conventional TV ad.


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