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For TV Advertisers, ESPN’s SportsCenter Is Home For Funny Ads

It’s one thing for a brand to make a TV media buy, and another thing entirely to ensure their ad strikes the right chord with the programming consumers are tuned in for at the time.

I was pondering this while watching SportsCenter this week because a GMC Black Friday TV ad truly cracked me up, reminds me of every time my wife and I get new tooth brushes. Watch and you’ll understand.

(If you’re curious: I end up with a red or pink tooth brush most of the time.)

Apparently, I have good taste in TV ads because according to real-time TV ad measurement company iSpot.tv the GMC ad garnered more TV impressions than any other ad that aired during SportsCenter (59,210,977 total impressions) in the past two weeks (Nov. 1 – Nov. 14). And if you’re thinking it probably aired the most — it didn’t. In fact, it was in the No. 7 spot (78) well behind Campbell’s Chunky Soup’s Dak Prescott spot (114) for total airings during the last two weeks of SportsCenter.

This got me thinking about SportsCenter’s programming in general, which has provided a plenty of humor over the years. Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann really set the tone in the ’90s. 

OK, so SportsCenter always seemed funny and light-hearted in nature, but does the data back it up?

Curious as to whether SportsCenter had lost its humorous edge (it does get its fair share of hate, or so I thought), we turned to emotion analytics company Canvs for a look at viewers’ Emotional Reactions (ERs) to SportsCenter year-to-date.

(January 1, 2018 – November 14, 2018: 3,387,461 total Emotional Reactions out of 16,558,349 Tweets explicitly responding to SportsCenter programming)


Wow. Not only is Funny the top ER, but Love, Crazy, Enjoy and Excited all follow.

Drilling down in Canvs a bit further, check out a word cloud of the top drivers of all viewer emotional response to SportsCenter thus far in 2018.

Why is this important?

First, if you’re a brand, it’s an indication of the people, subjects and things people watching SportsCenter have already proven they’ll respond to. (Apparently if you can get LeBron to do impersonations you’ll have a golden ticket of an ad campaign. Ya feel me?)

Second, while LeBron holds the title in basketball, anyone who reads TV[R]EV knows TV advertising is still King when it comes to coveted, premium, leaning back eyeballs. As we’ve well documented, even FAANGs turn to TV advertising. And while everyone gets their -flix on, what remains true is that in spite of the delivery methods changing, big brand advertisers have never had better analytics tools at their disposal to confirm investments in the right TV media buys.

Thanks for journeying down the media measurement rabbit hole. Until next time. Happy media geeking.