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Google Shows (Versus ‘Tells’) When Speaking to Baseball’s Older Audience

Baseball’s average TV audience is older than that of most major sports. This isn’t new information, as it’s been a trend for over a decade.

According to a Street & Smith’s study using data from 2016, the average baseball viewer was 57 years old and it’s unlikely they’ve gotten much younger over the course of the past two seasons. A decade prior, baseball’s average viewer age was 52. The sport’s audience — like that of most sports — is trending older on broadcast television.

That’s not a bad thing for content providers or advertisers, as it provides an opportunity for a less distracted audience to speak to. But when it comes to technology products like A.I. assistants or streaming TV services, that older audience could present an uphill battle. The workaround is some savvy advertising, however, and it’s something that Google has been engaging in for these past couple years during Major League Baseball’s playoffs and the World Series.

Google’s most notable example yet was its in-game integrations during the both 2018 League Championship Series, where it incorporated native Google Assistant reads into broadcasts right from the booth. The idea — smartly — is showing the benefits of the product, versus simply telling the audience what it is. Doing so with contextually relevant use cases (“Hey Google, when does the World Series start?”) during the broadcasts not only showcases what it does, but explains it to the audience in useful ways that don’t overcomplicate matters. It also tails right into the traditional ad spots, which further show its real use cases.

Voice-activated A.I. is nothing new for younger audiences, since many have been utilizing competitive services since actress Zooey Deschanel first asked her iPhone’s Siri “is it raining outside?” while staring out her rain-soaked window in early 2012. The idea of asking technology for help out loud is commonplace now. But for some audiences members in that average age of 57 (with a bunch trending above that number too), it’s a newer experience. Seeing it in action accurately answering simple questions is one way to make an impact.

Google is at it again in the World Series, albeit with some tweaks. The in-game spots are broadcast against the stadium scoreboard for viewers at home, and the message is simple: Want to watch the sports you want for just $40 per month? Sign up for YouTube TV.

YouTube TV’s inherently a bit more about telling viewers what it is, but the presentation here cuts out the frills and just shows you why (again, in a native advertising environment) YouTube TV has benefits, and what you get out of it. It’s simple and quick, and projected against the stadium, by the time you know it’s an ad, it’s over.

In this case, YouTube TV messaging keeps going into other commercial formats: Six-second ads, traditional spots that show you what the service provides even further (and adds text from reviews). And so there’s no mistaking which streaming service they’re talking about, the game’s even presented by YouTube TV, too.

Google’s made baseball its platform to win converts in recent years, and it’s working as YouTube TV continues its rapid growth — especially on TV sets. Will they expand this approach to reach other “atypical” customers in older audience brackets? It’s an interesting time to watch Google and others push the future of TV by using the traditional pipes.