Sports betting is a small ad category for radio but it has the potential to grow exponentially as more states legalize mobile sports betting. According to Nielsen, local radio booked $3.9 million in ad sales from online sports gambling in first quarter while network radio attracted $488,000. Meanwhile the category has become a “golden goose” for local TV, contributing $154 million to the market in Q1 after a mere $10.7 million at the start of 2019.
Since then, online gambling has moved up to rank 11th among 1,200 product categories for spot TV advertising dollars, accounting for a 2.1% share, per Nielsen. And within the local TV market, the top seven advertisers in the online gambling space account for 96% of the spot TV ads in the category with the top three – FanDuel, DraftKings and Bet MGM – accounting for 82%.
While radio’s share is currently dwarfed by TV, the rising tide for sports betting could lift all boats, especially media companies that play in the sports arena. Audacy is betting big that the category will mushroom in the years ahead. The company reported “strong growth” in both active subscribers and affiliate fees for BetQL, the sports betting data and analytics app it acquired in November. In tandem with multiyear marketing partnerships with BetMGM and FanDuel, CEO David Field anticipates sports gambling will blossom into a $100 million ad category for the company over the next few years, tripling its expected 2021 dollar volume, he told analysts and investors last week during his company’s quarterly earnings calk.
Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia, last week called sports gambling “a great category for us,” noting the company has devoted a pair of “Gambler”-branded radio stations to the growing marketplace. In addition to advertising from sports books, Pittman said iHeart is seeing sports-oriented advertisers show considerable interest in reaching the sports betting audience.
In addition to revised federal regulations allowing advertised sports betting on radio and TV, professional sports leagues themselves have warmed up to sports gambling after years of distancing themselves from it. “We’re going to find ways we can engage fans through legalized sports betting,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell said when announcing the NFL’s new television contracts in March. Some sports teams, such as the New York Giants and Washington Wizards, have physical sports books inside their stadiums.
“So even though gambling activities are limited to select states, advertising in this category, where legal, is increasing across the overwhelming majority of the country’s 208 DMAs,” Nielsen says. “And that spells opportunity for local news organizations and advertising agencies alike.”