Radio's A Better Bet For Sports Betting Advertising, New Study Says.


The results from a pair of MARU/Matchbox studies commissioned by Cumulus Media show that not only are AM/FM radio listeners significantly more interested, experienced and engaged in sports betting than TV viewers, their listening covers a wide span of formats as opposed to just sports programming. These findings and more, as reported in the latest Westwood One's Everyone's Listening blog, suggest that the current ad buying balance between radio and TV should be readjusted in radio's favor.


"AM/FM radio is the ideal platform for online sports betting sites to build their brands and businesses,” Cumulus Media Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says. “Compared to TV viewers, AM/FM radio listeners have far more experience with online sports betting, greater interest, greater awareness of, and greater engagement with online sports betting brands.”


The second of MARU/Matchbox's two studies, conducted in April among more than 700 adults over age 21 in the 12 states where online sports wagering is fully legalized – Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia – found that interest in sports betting skews younger and more male, with nearly half of adults 21-34, and one-third of men, very or somewhat interested in wagering. Overall, nearly one-fourth of adults 21+ say they are very or somewhat interested in online sports betting.


Across those 12 states, heavy AM/FM radio listeners significantly outscore heavy TV viewers when it comes to having ever placed an online sports bet, and interest in doing so. Along these lines, the blog also points out research from Nielsen Scarborough that AM/FM radio sports play-by-play broadcasts are almost twice as likely to attract sports bettors compared to the same broadcast on television. “AM/FM radio’s much younger age profile means it has a much larger concentration of those interested in online sports betting, [while] linear TV leans quite old, with the majority of the audience over the age of 50,” Bouvard says. “The greater the time spent with TV, the lower the interest in sports betting, [while] AM/FM radio is the opposite. As AM/FM radio time spent listening grows, so does sports betting behavior.”


Radio listeners also score higher when it comes to being able to name online sports betting brands, although unaided, more than half are not able to name a brand. “This is shocking considering that the vast majority of online sports brand advertising runs on TV,” Bouvard says, citing Kantar Media research that for every dollar spent on AM/FM, sixteen are spent on television. “A TV campaign will generate massive impressions among those who have no interest in online sports betting, [while] AM/FM radio campaigns will generate a greater proportion of impressions with those inclined to online sports betting.”


Unaided or aided, DraftKings and FanDuel show the highest awareness levels, with 22% and 19% of adults 21+ respectively able to come up with either, while when shown a list of brands, those numbers move to 71% and 69%, with higher awareness of both among radio listeners compared to TV viewers, and among adults 21-34. While running a distant third, BetMGM did run the most radio ads in measured markets in these 12 states during April 2021.


While it may be no surprise that seven of 10 listeners of Sports radio formats say they are very or somewhat interested in sports betting, that percentage is nearly matched by listeners of Urban formats, while six of 10 Alternative listeners show interest. Interest in sports betting sites is also strong among listeners of Alternative Rock, Adult Contemporary, News/Talk, Country, Top 40, and Rock formats. It's notable that while the share of ad impressions during April 2021 on Sports, News/Talk and Classic Rock is over-weighted compared to each format's listeners' level of interest in sports betting, the opposite is the case for Rock, Top 40, Adult Contemporary, and Classic Hits/Oldies. Also worth noting is the power of podcast, with Nielsen Scarborough figures in the report showing podcast listeners are 63% more likely to be sport bettors compared to the general population, and that sports bettors listen to news/government/history, comedy and society and culture podcasts in addition to just those focused on sports.


Given results showing the skew toward AM/FM listeners, MARU/Matchbox's study suggests a restructuring of sports betting ad spend to a mix more representative of, and favoring, radio vs. TV. “January through April 2021 spending in the online sports betting category skews 94% television and only 6% AM/FM radio,” Bouvard says. “This is a massive misalignment. Among those interested in sports betting, 40% are heavy AM/FM radio listeners and 30% are heavy TV viewers, a relationship that converts to a ratio of 57% AM/FM radio and 43% TV.”

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