AM/FM Radio (And Not Just Sports Stations) The Better Bet For Reaching Sports Bettors.


The fast-growing sports betting ad category – with brands having run 400,000 radio ads during the first five months of 2022, according to Media Monitors – brings with it perception-vs.-reality issues as to the profile of users, including their age skew, media habits and, for those listening to AM/FM radio, to what stations they're tuned.


Westwood One's weekly blog has sorted out these issues in its analysis of a MARU/Matchbox study among over 1,200 adults 21 and over, conducted earlier this year. One key takeaway: women are now nearly as interested in sports betting as men (46%, vs. 51%), and interest is strongest within the 35-54 demographic (48%, vs. 32% 21-34 and 20% 55+).


“A year ago I would have told you that it leaned decisively male. No longer,” Cumulus Media Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says. “[And] it's not the young male single guys. That is the stereotype. They're much more likely to be employed, married with kids [and] college graduates. The core of this demo is 35-54: way more likely to have kids, and over-indexing on income.”


As for AM/FM radio listeners vs. TV viewers, it's radio doing the heavy lifting – that is, heavy AM/FM listeners are more likely than heavy TV viewers to be interested in sports betting (26%, vs. 19% of heavy TV viewers) and more likely to have ever placed a bet online or on an app (21%, vs. 13%). Across other measures of passion of online sports betting (such as recommending sites to or discussing them with others), the heavy radio listeners outscore heavy TV viewers. In addition, heavy AM/FM listeners are more likely to be extremely or very familiar with online sports betting sites, with knowledge of market leaders such as DraftKings and Caesars Sportsbook anywhere from 7-11% greater than among heavy TV viewers.


The irony here is, more of sports betting sites' ad money is spent on TV – much more – as in 96% of spend vs. just 4% to AM/FM. The MARU/Matchbox study, meanwhile, puts the optimal media mix at 52% AM/FM radio and 48% TV. “TV viewers aren't interested in online sports betting; they have very little experience with it,” Bouvard says. “If you're spending on people with low-category interest, it's just awfully hard to build brand awareness. On the other hand, radio listeners are much more engaged and much more passionate [because] they have much stronger brand awareness.”


Also working in radio's favor is its audience composition compared to TV, with nearly half of AM/FM's listeners in the 18-49 bracket, compared to just 24% of TV viewers. “In any given week, one-third of Americans will never see any linear TV commercials, let alone [those for] online sports betting,” Bouvard says. “Radio on the other hand has a much stronger weekly reach at 85% of 18-49, so if your target demo is 25-49 or 18-49, you're going to reach way more of them on radio vs. TV.”


According to Westwood One's analysis, with an increase in radio ad spend should be one in formats other than sports. The MARU/Matchbox study shows that listeners interested in online sports betting prefer a wider variety of stations, including those featuring rock, classic rock, top 40, adult contemporary and news/talk. “It would be a mistake for a brand to place a lot of their money into sports talk, as 90% of online sports betting intenders are found outside the Sports radio format,” Bouvard says. Also notable: according to Nielsen Scarborough, listeners of podcasts are 64% more likely to be sports bettors, and as is the case with AM/FM, listening covers a wide range of genres, with just 12% of listening by sports bettors to sports podcasts.

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