MEDIA VILLAGE

Cadent Launches New Sports Network, Ramping Up Advertising Options

BY JUSTIN PAURA

Cadent Launches New Sports Network, Ramping Up Advertising Options

With sports remaining in such high demand, Cadent has launched the Cadent Sports Network as a new option for national advertisers who want efficient and targeted access to sports audiences across cable, connected TV (CTV) and broadcasting.

The timing is perfect. In the first half of 2021 sports accounted for 25% of all U.S. TV ad spending and even more in certain ad categories such as tech, notes Rick Beispel, Senior Vice President of National Sales and Strategy at Cadent. Now, consider the early months of 2022: the National Football League playoffs are starting, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics kick off on Feb. 4 and Super Bowl LVI is coming on Feb.13, followed by March Madness.

"If advertisers have an existing sports sponsorship, there are opportunities to amplify this message or heavy up in key target markets," Beispel says. "Additionally, it's a great opportunity for advertisers that want to reach sports audiences but aren't able to invest in a title sponsorship or network sports commitment."

Cadent advertising uses a unique cross-screen approach through cable, broadcast and CTV. Connected TV is growing, as viewers use systems like Roku, Xbox and Apple TV to stream live content more than ever before.

"We're already starting to see some of these changes, as audiences continue to fragment," Beispel says. "While broadcast and cable still maintain a lion's share of viewers, more and more we're seeing consumers shift some or all their viewing to OTT [over the top] and CTV platforms. To make the most of sports activations, advertisers will need to take a more audience-based approach and, when done successfully, this should create a seamless brand experience for the viewer."

The sports network is built through Cadent's Aperture platform that launched in 2021, which provides users with an intuitive dashboard for TV media buying, planning and measurement across channels featuring the three tools: Connect, Activate and Enable. Through the platform's Viewer Graph, advertisers can use targeted data to better define and engage sports fans and like-audiences, setup cross-screen planning, optimize cross-channel TV campaigns, measure effectiveness and create reports aligned to key business outcomes.

Data helps explain the importance of this. The seven most-viewed telecasts of 2021 were all NFL games, and only three of the top 30 were non-sports broadcasts, according to research published by Variety. First place was held as usual by the Super Bowl, which had over 50 million more viewers than the second place AFC Championship between the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs.

The rise in legalized sports gambling across the country has boosted the popularity of sports advertising. Mobile sports betting has been approved in New York and should be fully operational in early 2022; other states including Arizona, Connecticut and Michigan first launched in 2021. There's no slow-down in sight, as more states legalize sports betting. That means more ad dollars should be coming into the sports TV marketplace.

Many other changes are afoot. "Some of the things we're expecting to see are the continued growth in ad demand; the NFL continuing to dominate the top 100 broadcast programs; and sports betting advertising remaining highly visible," Beispel says.

"We're also predicting greater investment in women's sports -- deservedly so -- and a tremendously popular 2022 World Cup," he adds. "In terms of things to watch, the potential DTC (direct-to-consumer) services being launched by RSNs (regional sports networks) are going to be one to keep an eye on, as it is a complicated landscape."

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