Advertising Is Content: The Threat To Streaming Sports Posed By A Tiny Advertisement Inventory

from the jingle-this dept

I've talked about the coming and evolving world of wider streaming in professional and major college sports for quite a while now. Even measuring only the past few years, streaming of sporting events has seen immense progress, from the leagues themselves getting on board and expanding options, to broadcast partners opening up their product online, to forward-looking team owners recognizing that the future is in streaming. Wide-spread streaming sports is going to happen, due to all of the above and the fact that cord-cutting is simply not going to go away.

Which isn't to say there aren't barriers to hurdle as progress is made. Today, I want to talk about one of them: the horrifically small advertising inventory too many sports streams have. Ads that become annoying due to repetition isn't a new concept. There is even a TV Tropes page for it. But what for television is repeated ads as a mild annoyance due to poor scheduling or the notion that repetition makes ads more effective is something entirely different for the current crop of online stream ads. What we're dealing with today is repetition of the same ads or ads for the same products/services over and over and over again, in break after break, often times repeated within breaks, all because the inventory is too low.

Contrary to what you might think, this isn't a small problem. Not every person needs to use the bathroom at every commercial break. For sporting events in particular, this becomes a greater issue because the natural breaks in game action often times mean that commercial breaks will occasionally occur in near proximity to one another. Repeated ads in this case over the course of an entire event aren't just annoying, they're absolutely jarring to the viewer.

An anecdote: most of my NFL viewing occurs in my kitchen, typically using one of the streaming services, while I cook my family's Sunday dinner. It's a tradition in my house that I do dinners on Sunday. Having the NFL Foxsports.com stream on my tablet in the kitchen made my wife angrily leave the room entirely and refuse to come back. I'm not exaggerating. There was a particular commercial featuring a certain quarterback saying random things in the sing-song of a particular company's jingle that, over the course of roughly fifteen minutes, was played no less than ten times. It made her hate the stream, the advertiser, and probably me for having it on in the first place. Whatever advertising is hoping to achieve, the broadcaster cannot accept it causing viewers to literally leave the room in annoyance.

Television doesn't have this problem currently, because the ad inventory is much higher. If you see an ad repeated two or three times during a single game, it's no big deal. I'd guess that I saw three or four total ads on Fox's stream something like thirty times each during the course of one game. That can't go on. It makes the streaming product less valuable and less desirable. If advertising is content, and it is, then that content must never cause us to turn away and hide from it.

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Filed Under: ads, advertising, content, oversaturation, repeats, sports, streaming


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  1. icon
    hij (profile), 13 Nov 2015 @ 6:53pm

    How is this different from broadcast TV?

    In the context of sports this is not that different from broadcast television. If you try to watch a football game all you get is an endless loop of the two different commercials trying to sell the two different kinds of erectile dysfunction drugs. As far as I can tell the primary audience for football is aging men who are so senile that they need to be reminded to buy their boner pills every four minutes. Then again, these are the same people who like to spend their time on the beach lounging in a tub.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    StreamingCommercialHell, 13 Nov 2015 @ 7:06pm

    Watching anything using the WatchESPN app is an exercise in patience when it comes to repetitive ads. For main events that are airing at the same time on ESPN / ESPN2 why not just use the same commercials that are being aired on TV? Nope, the same 3 to 5 ads, over and over again during break. So annoying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Howard, Cowering, 13 Nov 2015 @ 7:14pm

    Congratulations

    Your wife is a patient woman with deep tolerance. I detested that commercial the first time I saw/heard it. Also, I have found more interesting things to do this season than watch NFL's product, largely because the commentators all read from the same script of talking points, even when the game has diverted from the pre-written assessment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonmylous, 13 Nov 2015 @ 8:59pm

    Wrong audience.

    By which I mean, complaining to us, while cathartic, is not constructive. You make an excellent point that honestly is more far-reaching than sports streams. Many streaming services such as Disney, Crunchyroll, Hulu, and more have this exact same issue.

    You know who doesn't though? YouTube. It has its own problems, but a lack of streaming ad catalog is not one of them. Just putting that out there.

    As in politics, when you do not agree with how things are being run, write someone. Write to the people behind Fox Sports and let them know how disappointed you are by having your viewing experience ruined by such high repetition. Write to the companies displaying their ads on those streams. They pay for a certain value and understand that they are not getting what they paid for (or are being fleeced for additional revenue) when their ads are overplayed to such a ridiculous extent.

    Do something. Be the change you want to see in others. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    annonymouse, 13 Nov 2015 @ 9:59pm

    The issue of having a short rotation of ads as well as more ads per hour is both annoying and glaringly obvious on cable where the provider inserts their ads over the original broadcast and more times than not runs over the show itself.
    Unfortunately I have the added issue of some whohaa creating massive interference to the broadcast signals during prime time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Nov 2015 @ 11:37pm

    That constant annoyance of repeated ads is exactly why I run an ad blocking addon for most services. I got absolutely sick of YouTube showing me the same ad every video. And of hulu showing it to me like 5 times per episode of whatever I was watching

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2015 @ 1:37am

    Advertisers are like whining children in a supermarket

    Advertisers are like whining children in a supermarket.

    The difference is that children stop whining.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    art guerrilla (profile), 14 Nov 2015 @ 2:57am

    Re: Congratulations

    1. there is nothing 'wrong' with the commercial (excepting that there is something 'wrong' with ALL commercials); it is just that the mildly amusing context IS lost after the millionth showing in the last hour...
    (actually, the amusement is lost after the first 3-4 showings, the other million are what induces the brain to be one neuron away from going postal...)

    2. on point of your boring commentators: i have always wished a couple regular guys/gals who are semi-knowledgeable of the sport would provide their own irreverent commentary of the games, AND poke the NFL in the eye for their bullshit "retransmission is illegal and we'll kill you, blah blah blah"...
    with the right guys/gals providing off-the-wall comments, it might make pro football fun again...

    3. "It made her hate the stream, the advertiser, and probably me for having it on in the first place."
    how long have you been married ? ? ? the order would be: hates YOU for having it on in the first place, and MAYBE thinks about the original offenders being semi-responsible...

    'chicken parm you taste so gooooooood...'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    J, 14 Nov 2015 @ 5:21am

    It isn't just sports streams

    I'm reminded of a time that Hulu's demographic targeting got confused and decided I *really* needed to join the Navy to pay for college. It played the same Navy ad 3 times in a row (and then tried to get me to "Go Army")....

    Particularly ironic was this was after I defended my PhD, part of which was paid for by grants from the ONR (http://www.onr.navy.mil/).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2015 @ 6:07am

    Content is advertising. What is to stop them from showing replays, highlights, etc...


    Please don't try to convince me we need more commercials because people can't keep their programming interesting enough whenever the nfl needs to stop the clock.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2015 @ 6:47am

    Re: Wrong audience.

    That's not how blogs work. The author isn't writing this to us hoping we'll do something to fix advertising in streaming. It's commentary on the state of things.

    You should probably pay more attention.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    madasahatter (profile), 14 Nov 2015 @ 8:02am

    Re: Wrong audience.

    The post is noting that streaming sports have an advertising problem - not enough ads sold to keep the annoying ones at bay and driving viewers away. This could result in the a double failure for sports - broadcast rights not worth as much not being replaced by streaming income. Major league sports make most of their money from rights payments not from the gate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 14 Nov 2015 @ 9:46am

    Re: Wrong audience.

    Yet another comment that complains that it's wrong to pubicly complain about things that annoy you. Is my complaining about that complaining about complaining triply wrong?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    tqk (profile), 14 Nov 2015 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Advertisers are like whining children in a supermarket

    Advertisers are like whining children in a supermarket. The difference is that children stop whining.
    Advertising doesn't have to be like whining children (anywhere). Our problem with advertising is they dumb their message down hoping it'll hit common denominator level; not pissing off too many while still attempting to hammer their message through five inch thick skulls. They fail miserably at both. European ads used to be offered up as the right way to do it (I don't know if this is still true). I remember going to theaters to see movies which were compilations of the year's best European ads, and they were quite entertaining. I'd watch John Cleese hawking boner pills any day.

    On your second point, no they don't. They just grow up to be adult whiners, as this story demonstrates. FFS, NFL is crap any way you get it. The ads just make it even crappier. Complaining about how the NFL chooses (deigns) to feed your foolish addiction is the worst sort of whining. Kick the habit already. Find something better to do, whether that's play a cd or dvd, read a book, or chat with the wife and kids. All would be a far better thing to spend your time on than professional sports programming. They all suck all over in multitudinous ways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Adrian, 14 Nov 2015 @ 2:15pm

    Twitch tv

    This is a huge problem with twitch TV. That and the fact that the stream often breaks after the ad, in which case you need to reload the stream and watch another ad. As blockers are an absolute requirement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2015 @ 5:36pm

    > Television doesn't have this problem currently, because the ad inventory is much higher.

    Most times, most places.

    I have regularly seen ads repeated during the play of a movie on over-the-air TV. I've sometimes even seen an ad repeated during a single break.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Rosie, 15 Nov 2015 @ 8:03pm

    rosie.wong@energizer.com

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Vincent Clement (profile), 16 Nov 2015 @ 6:24am

    Up here in Canada, it's the same on the various TV network apps. For the longest time I think the CBC only had two ads running on their app - an app that is connected to the internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2015 @ 6:56am

    Adblock or Ublock Origin?

    Do they not work on that stream? They seem to work just fine on hulu for me...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    nasch (profile), 16 Nov 2015 @ 10:27am

    Re:

    For main events that are airing at the same time on ESPN / ESPN2 why not just use the same commercials that are being aired on TV?

    Because those advertisers didn't pay for online ads, only the 3 to 5 you see did. They don't want to give away ad spots for free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    John85851 (profile), 16 Nov 2015 @ 4:09pm

    Re: How is this different from broadcast TV?

    Don't forget the same commercials from the usual companies selling beer and trucks. How many times does Ford have to run a commercial for an F-150 for someone to buy it?

    At what point does "brand awareness" turn into "brand annoyance", as in "I remember that commercial! I hated it! I'll buy something else!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Nov 2015 @ 11:40am

    my wife went nuts after the tenth time the sportscenter anchors announced they "were men wearing makeup talking about sports." she made me start muting those commercials.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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