Sports Betting Is Revving Up Ad Spending For Fourth Quarter

Historically, advertising in fourth quarter has been the most expensive of the year driven by high demand of the holiday season. Traditional product categories that ramp up their marketing budgets include retailers, toys/games, apparel, alcoholic beverages and movie studios. Plus every other year political ads plunk down billions of ad dollars. New to the list will be sports betting.

Also each fourth quarter the NFL and college football are in full swing, there’s post-season baseball and the NBA, college basketball as well as the NHL are starting new seasons. This year will also include the quadrennial FIFA Men’s World Cup soccer tournament from Qatar. The global event has been pushed back from June-July to November-December because of the heat.

Of fourth quarter, Nicole Ovadia, VP Forecasting & Analysis, BIA Advisory Services says, “It’s a very busy time for sports betting and, therefore, we expect to see a spike in ad spending by the major players in this space as they are vying for customers – especially in the markets where sports betting is new.” John Casillo, an analyst at TVREV adds, “Sports betting is seasonally-focused, with a specific emphasis on the fall and winter for the NFL.”

Sports Betting Revenue: Revenue for sports betting has been climbing. For the first half of 2022 revenue totaled just over $3 billion compared to $4.3 billion for all of last year. Morgan Stanley forecasts revenue to reach $7 billion by 2025. Also, in 2021 Americans bet $57.2 billion on sporting events, a year-over-year increase of 165%.

Helping to grow revenue (and ad dollars) is the continued legalization of sportsbooks by states. Last month Massachusetts became the 36th state to legalize sports betting (Washington D.C. has also legalized it). Massachusetts joins Maine, Ohio, Nebraska, Kansas and Florida as states that have legalized gambling but has yet to enact any regulations.

California Ballot Referendum: California, the most populous state, has legalized sports betting on its ballot this Election Day. Kantar/CMAG reports ad spending has already exceeded $300 million. When compared to previous ballot measures, Steve Passwaiter, a Senior Advisor to Kantar/CMAG notes, “It’s clearly set a new record, the spending to date has beaten totals for the 2020 measure [Proposition 22] on gig workers.” Additionally, to date, the California propositions has easily surpassed the ad dollars spent in any statewide political election this year (the Senate race in Pennsylvania being the second most costly). Alaska also has a ballot referendum on sports betting in November.

California’s legalized sports betting has two propositions on the ballot. Proposition 26 will allow only casinos and four race tracks owned by Native American tribes to allow in-person gambling. Native American tribes, who currently have the sole legal rights for gambling in California, are financially backing this proposition. Proposition 27 would legalize mobile sports betting statewide and has funding from sportsbook companies including DraftKings and FanDuel as well as Major League Baseball. A third group is opposed to any legalizing sports betting.

Local Sports Betting Ad Spend: For local advertising, BIA forecasts ad spend for sports betting to reach $1.8 billion in 2022, a sizable jump of 80% from 2021. By 2024, BIA projects local ad spend for the category to total $2.9 billion. BIA’s Nicole Ovadia, says, “With New York and other larger markets making online sports betting legal this year, that has led to a significant increase in ad spending. BIA is also forecasting this vertical to grow significantly between now and 2024 when it will hit nearly $3 billion. This jump is dependent on California voting to legalize online gambling in 2023 and going live in 2024.”

Local radio is also benefiting from sportsbooks seasonal ad spending strategy. According to Inside Radio, after a lull of several months in marketing activity, for the week of September 5 (which coincided with the start of the 2022 NFL season) three sportsbook companies ranked among the top 100 advertisers. DraftKings led, ranking ninth among all advertisers with 28,945 AM/FM spot occurrences, the most radio ads run by a sportsbook advertiser in any week. FanDuel ran 11,268 ads ranking 52nd and Caesars Sportsbook aired 6,766 messages ranking #86. BIA recently increased its radio ad spend forecast for sportsbooks from $150 million to $164 million for the year.

NFL: Driving the popularity of sports betting in fourth quarter will be the NFL. According to the American Gaming Association, 46.6 million Americans plan to bet on the NFL during the 2022 season. Front Office Sports calculates that accounts for 18% of all U.S. adults and a 3% increase from last season. Similar to last season, the NFL will restrict the number of sportsbooks ads to six across television and Amazon Prime for each game. One ad can air before kickoff and another at halftime. There are presently five advertisers approved by the NFL; FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, BetMGM and FOX Bet. Earlier this week Amazon Prime announced DraftKings will be a sponsor for their inaugural season of Thursday Night Football. In addition, as in the past, sportsbooks at NFL stadiums will remain shut throughout the games.

National TV Sports Betting Ad Spend: As expected, NFL games dominate national TV spending with sports betting advertisers. In analyzing iSpot data, John Casillo points out in 2021, 41.7% of TV ad impressions — and 81% of estimated national TV ad spend — for sports betting brands were allocated toward the NFL.

For the first week of the 2022 NFL season estimated sports betting ads accounted for 4.80% of NFL TV ad impressions and $24 million in ad spend. These figures are comparable with Week 1 of 2021 (4.83% ad impressions and $23.8 million in ad spend). For week 1 of 2022, FanDuel led in ad spend at $13.8 million, followed by DraftKings ($5.4 million), BetMGM ($2.6 million) and Caesars ($2.2 million).

Moreover, iSpot reports the estimated ad spending of sports betting on national TV is on the upswing, increasing from $64.6 million in 2020 to $199.7 million in 2021. Year-to-date, with the NFL season just starting, the ad spend has already reached $161.7 million. Casillo points out, national sports betting ads still have potential to grow in future years too, as more states legalize mobile sportsbooks and sports betting overall.

Magna Global in their latest ad spending forecast noted; sports betting is becoming a major category; until now local and digital media have captured the bulk of the spending, but national TV will increase its share as it is legalized in ever more states (New York this year, California and Texas possibly in 2023).

Sports betting ads are also going beyond traditional media outlets. For the 2022-23 season the NHL, in a first, will feature a “3”x “5” ad patch on the front of players uniforms. Three of the 32 franchises will have a patch associated with casinos and betting. The Arizona Coyotes will have an ad from Gila River Resorts and Casinos; the Vegas Golden Knights with Circa Sports and the Washington Capitals with Caesars Sportsbook.

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