Branding the World of Sports

Sometimes sports get in the way of the commercials

Posted by ZA on April 16, 2009

Many of the people who watch the Super Bowl are just watching to see the commercials.  With an audience of over 90 million viewers, the Super Bowl commercials have taken on a life of their own that is separate from the game.  We hear about their cost, content and controversies leading up to the game.  Then share our opinions on them, re-watch them and even rate them after the Super Bowl is over.  There are even websites that are solely devoted to the commercials aired during the Super Bowl.  So the corporations that advertise during the Super Bowl get a lot of bang for their (considerable) buck.

Yet as big as Super Bowl commercials have become, they are still only played during the regularly scheduled breaks in the game.  Yes, a few of those breaks might be stretched longer to accommodate a little extra revenue.  And yes televised sports have introduced the concept of the TV timeout, which was not part of our vocabulary a couple of decades ago.  But those commercial breaks have generally been incorporate in to the lulls in the game (e.g.- after kick offs or turnovers).  We’ve rarely seen a situation in sports when a game was intentionally stopped in order to air commercials, until now…

The Indian Premier League of cricket is going to add in “compulsory time outs” during their tournament in South Africa.  This is the first time the IPL has used time outs in their games; he sole purpose in using them is “an attempt to squeeze in more television advertising“.  SportBusiness says the IPL plans to market them as “tactical timeouts” which will each last 7:30 minutes.  The TV audience will watch three long commercials (2:30 minutes each) during each break; the commercials will cost approximately $1 million a piece.

A senior official said the decision to stop the normal flow of the game to add commercials was, “driven completely…by commercial objectives…to make even more money”.  The same official went on to say that the television commercials are not a benefit to the game being played and would not add any value.

So is this the way we’re headed now in sports?  We need more money, so we stop the games in order to show television commercials.  It’s a concept we’re probably pretty used to in America, as our games have been chopped up by commercial breaks for years.  But how will it be received around the rest of the globe?  Imagine the howls of protest if any of Europe’s major soccer leagues ever decided to add in commercials during the action on the field.  Sure it’s nearly impossible to imagine that today, but there might come a day soon when it happens.  I’m sure the fans of cricket would tell you they never expected to see breaks artificially inserted in to their sport, and now it’s a reality.

[Assist: SportBusiness]

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