Finding Your Audience: Premium Live Sports Deliver

From Joe Rockhill, VP, FOX Sports Brand Partnerships Ad Sales Strategy

With the Super Bowl in the books, we close another incredibly successful NFL season. Annually, 100 million viewers tune in for the Super Bowl – and in America today no other event creates that much attention. In fact, in modern television history, no other television event has topped the Super Bowl each year. What’s more, the experience is live and in the moment with viewers focused on the same content, from the play on the field to the ads aired during the game, at the exact same time.

Plenty has changed since the first Super Bowl was played in 1967 for viewers and advertisers alike. The TV landscape featured only three broadcast networks, cable tv networks and AVOD services didn’t exist, sitcoms dominated the ratings landscape, and professional sports were just earning their place on screens across America.

To find a sizable audience today, the focus has turned to live and yet, not all live programming is created equal. For example, since 2015, viewership of the Academy Awards has fallen every year except for 2019 (where it grew by just three million). Just a few years ago, an advertiser could still find more than 20 million viewers tuning in for the Academy Awards, yet this past year the Oscars drew only 10.7 million viewers, falling completely out of the top 100 telecasts of 2021.

It’s clear that premium live sports programming captures the lion’s share of attention from viewers and advertisers -- and the NFL leads the pack. According to Nielsen, 95 of the year's top 100 shows were sports, 88 were football telecasts and 35 were FOX Sports presentations. Diving deeper into the coveted W18-49 demo, many people may be surprised that sports account for 95 of the top 100 telecasts as well.

FOX Sports had more telecasts among this year's top 100 than any other network, let alone any other network sports division. America’s Game of the Week on FOX averaged over 23 million viewers this season to rank not only as the top NFL program but as televisions most watched program for the 13th straight year. Given football’s dominance with viewers, it's safe to say that football, more than anything else, now defines mainstream American culture. With the NFL’s most watched broadcast package, television’s most watched program, as well as the most watched college football window, FOX is home to football for fans nationwide.

Great fans also make for strong advertising audiences. At FOX Sports, we rely on a certain type of consumer whose engagement with sports is reflective of a broader engagement with life itself. We have spent countless hours researching what it means to be a fan and have found unsurprisingly that sports fans typically have almost twice as many friends as non-fans.

When we survey "high-value" fans - those fans and viewers that are the most engaged with sports - we find they're more engaged with their communities, more voracious media consumers, and have more affinity for brands. What’s more, high value fans are happier, more confident, and more optimistic. They're more optimistic that a year from now their personal relationships will be better; that their health, their financial situation, their sense of community and their overall happiness will all be better than they are today.

These are the people that drive our business and make up the audiences our advertising partners are seeking. For FOX Sports to deliver on one of the core promises of sports fandom - bringing people together – it’s necessary to meet those fans where they are and be optimists ourselves, if not by nature, then by choice. Given the exhausting events of the last two years, anyone could be forgiven for asking with some wariness "What's next?"

To matter at all, sports must continuously provide an answer. More capacity crowds, more unforgettable moments, more events that bring us all together. At FOX Sports, that means another week of racing at Daytona, the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, the launch of the USFL, the Field of Dreams, another incredible football season, the FIFA World Cup, the World Series and yet another Super Bowl in February 2023. Ratings and viewership statistics are just a road map pointing us to a larger idea - that sports and FOX Sports must constantly provide something for fans to bond over while looking forward with excitement and optimism.

With the incredible events of the next year on FOX Sports, we know that we will deliver for fans and partners alike, leaving no doubt that we are What's Next.

To learn more about partnership opportunities with FOX Sports, please visit or reach out to your Account Executive.