Connect with us
blank

BSM Writers

Baby Boomers Have All The Money, Brands & Advertisers Have To Pay Attention

“So in the Boomers, sports leagues and networks are capturing an audience that is not only far wealthier, but far more enthusiastic about engaging with their products.”

Ryan Glasspiegel

Published

on

blank

For a number of years, Mike Francesa has been emphasizing that Baby Boomers were a dramatically undervalued audience demographic for advertisers. His generation was working and living longer, and earning and spending far greater money than the 25-54 year old demo coveted by radio and 18-49 by TV. The New York radio legend recognized a vital paradigm shift sooner than just about everyone else in the business, while also probably being a little too dismissive of young professionals. 

“I understand there’s an obsession with youth in this country, but go to a Mercedes-Benz dealer and ask them how many Mercedes did you sell in the last month to people between the ages of 18 and 34?” Francesa mused at the Barrett Sports Media summit early last year. “And then ask them how many they sold to the people between the ages of 55 and 65.”

I’ll acknowledge that my initial reaction to when Francesa started making this point years ago was thinking “Ok Boomer” inside my own mind. I was over-sensitive to the fact that he was hand-waving my generation of Millennials like he would a WFAN caller from Yonkers who suggested a dumb trade. His opinion was transparently self-serving in regards to his own aging audience, and he underrated what habit-forming can mean to advertisers. Nonetheless, as I’ve thought about it more I’ve realized he’s completely right about the considerable spending power of people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s in this country — and brands are also recognizing it and adapting. 

Buying for 3-4 Generations

Jill Albert is the CEO of Direct Results, a firm that buys ads across audio platforms including radio, podcasts, and streaming for brands like Omaha Steaks, USC, Home Advisor, Mathnasium and Chewy.com. She told Barrett Sports Media that 25-54 remains the “core” demographic target in audio, but that 55-75 year-olds are “kind of misunderstood and undervalued.” 

Lauren McHale, SVP and Director of Sales at the Katz Radio Group ad agency, agrees that 55+ is “often undervalued”. 

McHale said, “Advertisers target consumers via their lifestyle choices. Research shows that sports radio, play-by-play in particular, delivers an audience that is educated, employed, and has a higher income and higher net worth than the average adult.  Stats from the Federal Reserve and the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that adults 55+ have the highest net worth among all households, and account for the largest share (41%) of all consumer spending in the U.S.”

Albert made the point that Boomers, with accumulated wealth that dwarfs younger generations’, are in a position where in many cases they are spending not just on themselves but on care for their elderly parents, and potentially providing support for their children and grandchildren. 

Michael Mulvihill, EVP and Head of Strategy at Fox Sports, affirmed this point. “How many young people use a Netflix password that’s paid for by their parents? A lot,” he said. “How many parents use a Netflix account that’s paid for by their kid? Seems like not many. That seems to flow almost entirely in one direction.” 

So what we are seeing isn’t necessarily what Francesa lobbied for in prioritizing the boomers for ad targeting, but a gradual shift in which they’re being valued more than before but still not the priority. “At the end of the day we want as many ears on our platforms as we can get — whether it’s over-the-air or digital” said Mitch Rosen, Program Director of Audacy stations 670 The Score in Chicago and 105.7 The Fan in Milwaukee. “I still believe we live in a 25-54 world. I still think that’s the target.”

Contextualizing the Wealth

It’s one thing to just say that Boomers are rich and thus imply that the youth are poor, but when you look at the data it really smacks you in your face. According to the Federal Reserve, here is the wealth in trillions of dollars for the generations:

blank

Silent & Earlier is defined as born before 1946, Baby Boomers were born from 1946 through 1964, GenX from 1965-1980, and Millennials from 1981-1996. The differential magnitude is stunning: Boomers have nearly twice as much wealth as GenX’ers and nearly 11 times what the Millennials do. 

Michael Mulvihill, the Fox Sports executive, pointed me to a study, circulated by the AARP, which said that if you separated out the economic contributions of Americans aged 50+, it would be the third largest economy in the world behind the United States and China. “So the third largest economy on Earth is completely ignored by the advertising industry,” Mulvhill said of those who cut off audience value of those older than 18-49. “That seems like it should be reconsidered.”

Those numbers, as gobsmacking as they are, still do not tell the full story. Part of the emphasis on reaching 18-49 or 25-54 was the presumption of upward mobility amongst generations of Americans. The Boomers, when they were the target demo, were the leading illustration of this belief. However, the ladder got pulled up behind them. 

This chart, shared recently by UNC Greensboro economist Gray Kimbrough, takes a few seconds to read, but when you figure it out it plainly spells out what Mike Francesa was stating: young professionals have not been accumulating wealth like their predecessors did:

How can you respond to that besides acknowledging that fundamental assumptions about buying power must be re-assessed?

What it Means for Sports

You can hardly call it a dire situation when the NFL is nearly doubling their media rights money in the next TV contract, but there were some sirens sounded when the median viewership of the Chiefs-Bucs Super Bowl was at 50.6 years old, up from 46.6 in 2018 and 49.1 last year. To illustrate why we constantly hear about the old viewership for MLB and younger for NBA, the World Series was at 56.2 and the NBA Finals at 46.1. 

The Boomers are the generation most apt to sit down and watch all or most of a game, while the youngs are increasingly satisfied to nibble on highlights on their phones. Last week, Variety revealed a survey in which different generations were asked whether they preferred to watch full games or highlights. Here are the percentages that preferred watching highlights:

NFL

18-34: 48%
35-49: 20%

50+: 11%

NBA

18-34: 54%
35-49: 47%

50+: 40%

MLB

18-34: 58%
35-49: 48%

50+: 24%

So in the Boomers, sports leagues and networks are capturing an audience that is not only far wealthier, but far more enthusiastic about engaging with their products.

How do you harness that?

When I’ve talked about the undervaluation of older audiences, one response that I’ve gotten is that people’s preferences are set by the time they’re in their fifties and they become impervious to the influence of advertising. That is partially true, and explains why the youth is coveted. Look at what Dave Portnoy and Barstool have built. For two decades they have reached college-aged fans and kept them around. Portnoy isn’t content to let the audience age with them, and earlier this week explained the funnel system of doing drama-filled shows with Tik-Tok stars so that Barstool can capitalize on the young audience when they start making money:

Nonetheless, advertisers who cut off their targets at 49 or 54 are dismissing a remarkable amount of massive opportunities. 

“Buying habits may be set on consumer packaged products, so when they go to the grocery store things may be set from that perspective. You’re not going to sell them on a new brand of toothpaste,” said Jill Albert, the CEO of Direct Results. “But their world is opening up. They’re not spending as much time taking care of school-age children or working. So now they get to do whatever they want. Take travel: How many times do you talk to people who are 55 years old that are trying to figure out all the places they want to go? That’s a huge opportunity, especially after coming off a stretch where travel has been shut down and will be opening up.” 

Lauren McHale, of Katz Radio Group, says that they’ve discovered that Boomers express feeling excluded by marketers. “Using our proprietary research panel of U.S. consumers across the country, Katz surveyed older adults to gauge their opinions of brands not speaking to them,” she says. “Based on our research, the 55+ consumers are aware they’re being snubbed – they are also aware of their spending power. Our findings show that the 55+ audience want brands to speak to them and they take action when they hear an ad.”

There has been what I think is a misconception that mobile devices and streaming would cannibalize traditional media platforms when in many cases there are incremental strategic advantages. For example, for years Mitch Rosen was selling 670 The Score’s reach in car radios or perhaps in the office. Now, the app can reach you through your phone headphones or home speakers. For the first time ever this season, Cubs games will stream on their app. The audience from all of this can get aggregated and targeted accordingly. 

blank

Another element, and this is a topic for a whole other piece, is addressable advertising. Facebook, Google, and Amazon have built an oligopoly in digital advertising with their sophisticated targeting technologies. This strategy is already percolating in audio and TV. Jill Albert said that Direct Results is already using attribution models and pixel tracking techniques across audio platforms — even including terrestrial radio. 

To borrow a conclusion phrase from Mike Francesa, the bottom line is that he was perhaps a little too dismissive of young professionals, but absolutely right that the Baby Boomers need to be a focal point in sports media marketing. This is an audience that has more wealth and the desire to spend it than the generations who came before it and the ones coming up behind. For the right industries, targeting them is quite advantageous. 

BSM Writers

The Future Is Now, Embrace Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+

As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible.

Avatar photo

Published

on

blank

This week has been a reckoning for sports and its streaming future on Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+, ESPN+, and more.

Amazon announced that Thursday Night Football, which averaged 13 million viewers, generated the highest number of U.S. sign ups over a three hour period in the app’s history. More people in the United States subscribed to Prime during the September 15th broadcast than they did during Black Friday, Prime Day, and Cyber Monday. It was also “the most watched night of primetime in Prime Video’s history,” according to Amazon executive Jay Marine. The NFL and sports in general have the power to move mountains even for some of the nation’s biggest and most successful brands.

This leads us to the conversation happening surrounding Aaron Judge’s chase for history. Judge has been in pursuit of former major leaguer Roger Maris’ record for the most home runs hit during one season in American League history.

The sports world has turned its attention to the Yankees causing national rights holders such as ESPN, Fox, and TBS to pick up extra games in hopes that they capture the moment history is made. Apple TV+ also happened to have a Yankees game scheduled for Friday night against the Red Sox right in the middle of this chase for glory.

Baseball fans have been wildin’ out at the prospects of missing the grand moment when Judge passes Maris or even the moments afterwards as Judge chases home run number 70 and tries to truly create monumental history of his own. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand has even reported there were talks between YES, MLB, and Apple to bring Michael Kay into Apple’s broadcast to call the game, allow YES Network to air its own production of the game, or allow YES Network to simulcast Apple TV+’s broadcast. In my opinion, all of this hysteria is extremely bogus.

As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible. Amazon brought in NBC to help with production of TNF and if you watch the flow of the broadcast, the graphics of the broadcast, NBC personalities like Michael Smith, Al Michaels, and Terry McAuliffe make appearances on the telecast – it is very clear that the network’s imprint is all over the show.

NBC’s experience in conducting the broadcast has made the viewing experience much more seamless. Apple has also used MLB Network and its personalities for assistance in ensuring there’s no major difference between what you see on air vs. what you’re streaming.

Amazon and Apple have also decided to not hide their games behind a paywall. Since the beginning of the season, all of Apple’s games have been available free of charge. No subscription has ever been required. As long as you have an Apple device and can download Apple TV+, you can watch their MLB package this season.

Guess what? Friday’s game against the Red Sox is also available for free on your iPhone, your laptop, or your TV simply by downloading the AppleTV app. Amazon will also simulcast all Thursday Night Football games on Twitch for free. It may be a little harder or confusing to find the free options, but they are out there and they are legal and, once again, they are free.

Apple has invested $85 million into baseball, money that will go towards your team becoming better hypothetically. They’ve invested money towards creating a new kind of streaming experience. Why in the hell would they offer YES Network this game for free? There’s no better way for them to drive subscriptions to their product than by offering fans a chance at watching history on their platform.

A moment like this are the main reason Apple paid for rights in the first place. When Apple sees what the NFL has done for Amazon in just one week and coincidentally has the ability to broadcast one of the biggest moments in baseball history – it would be a terrible business decision to let viewers watch it outside of the Apple ecosystem and lose the ability to gain new fans.

It’s time for sports fans to grow up and face reality. Streaming is here to stay. 

MLB Network is another option

If you don’t feel like going through the hassle of watching the Yankees take on the Red Sox for free on Apple TV+, MLB Network will also air all of Judge’s at bats live as they are happening. In case the moment doesn’t happen on Apple TV+ on Friday night, Judge’s next games will air in full on MLB Network (Saturday), ESPN (Sunday), MLB Network again (Monday), TBS (Tuesday) and MLB Network for a third time on Wednesday. All of MLB Network’s games will be simulcast of YES Network’s local New York broadcast. It wouldn’t shock me to see Fox pick up another game next Thursday if the pursuit still maintains national interest.

Quick bites

  • One of the weirdest things about the experience of streaming sports is that you lose the desire to channel surf. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Brandon Ross of LightShed Ventures wonders if the difficulty that comes with going from app to app will help Amazon keep viewers on TNF the entire time no matter what the score of the game is. If it does, Amazon needs to work on developing programming to surround the games or start replaying the games, pre and post shows so that when you fall asleep and wake up you’re still on the same stream on Prime Video or so that coming to Prime Video for sports becomes just as much of a habit for fans as tuning in to ESPN is.
  • CNN has announced the launch of a new morning show with Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins. Variety reports, “Two people familiar with plans for the show say it is likely to use big Warner Bros. properties — a visit from the cast of HBO’s Succession or sports analysis from TNT’s NBA crew — to lure eyeballs.” It’ll be interesting to see if Turner Sports becomes a cornerstone of this broadcast. Will the NBA start doing schedule releases during the show? Will a big Taylor Rooks interview debut on this show before it appears on B/R? Will the Stanley Cup or Final Four MVP do an interview on CNN’s show the morning after winning the title? Does the show do remote broadcasts from Turner’s biggest sports events throughout the year?
  • The Clippers are back on over the air television. They announced a deal with Nexstar to broadcast games on KTLA and other Nexstar owned affiliates in California. The team hasn’t reached a deal to air games on Bally Sports SoCal or Bally Sports Plus for the upcoming season. Could the Clippers pursue a solo route and start their own OTT service in time for the season? Are they talking to Apple, Amazon, or ESPN about a local streaming deal? Is Spectrum a possible destination? I think these are all possibilities but its likely that the Clippers end up back on Bally Sports since its the status quo. I just find it interesting that it has taken so long to solidify an agreement and that it wasn’t announced in conjunction with the KTLA deal. The Clippers are finally healthy this season, moving into a new arena soon, have the technology via Second Spectrum to produce immersive game casts. Maybe something is brewing?
  • ESPN’s Monday Night Football double box was a great concept. The execution sucked. Kudos to ESPN for adjusting on the fly once complaints began to lodge across social media. I think the double box works as a separate feed. ESPN2 should’ve been the home to the double box. SVP and Stanford Steve could’ve held a watch party from ESPN’s DC studio with special guests. The double box watch party on ESPN2 could’ve been interrupted whenever SVP was giving an update on games for ESPN and ABC. It would give ESPN2 a bit of a behind the scenes look at how the magic happens similarly to what MLB Tonight did last week. Credit to ESPN and the NFL for experimenting and continuing to try and give fans unique experiences.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

ESPN Shows Foresight With Monday Night Football Doubleheader Timing

ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7 and then 10 on their primary channel.

Avatar photo

Published

on

blank

The Monday Night Football doubleheader was a little bit different this time around for ESPN.

First, it came in Week 2 instead of Week 1. And then, the games were staggered 75 minutes apart on two different channels, the Titans and Bills beginning on ESPN at 7:15 PM ET and the Vikings at the Eagles starting at 8:30 PM on ABC and ESPN+. This was a departure from the usual schedule in which the games kicked off at 7:00 PM ET and then 10:00 PM ET with the latter game on the West Coast.

ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7:00 PM and then 10:00 PM ET on their primary channel. That’s the typical approach, right? The NFL is the most valuable offering in all of sports and ESPN would have at least six consecutive hours of live programming without any other game to switch to.

Instead, they staggered the starts so the second game kicked off just before the first game reached halftime. They placed the games on two different channels, which risked cannibalizing their audience. Why? Well, it’s the same reason that ESPN was so excited about the last year’s Manningcast that it’s bringing it back for 10 weeks this season. ESPN is not just recognizing the reality of how their customers behave, but they’re embracing it.

Instead of hoping with everything they have that the customer stays in one place for the duration of the game, they’re recognizing the reality that they will leave and providing another product within their portfolio to be a destination when they do.

It’s the kind of experiment everyone in broadcasting should be investigating because, for all the talk about meeting the customer where they are, we still tend to be a little bit stubborn about adapting to what they do. 

Customers have more choices than ever when it comes to media consumption. First, cable networks softened the distribution advantages of broadcast networks, and now digital offerings have eroded the distribution advantages of cable networks. It’s not quite a free-for-all, but the battle for viewership is more intense, more wide open than ever because that viewer has so many options of not just when and where but how they will consume media.

Programmers have a choice in how to react to this. On the one hand, they can hold on tighter to the existing model and try to squeeze as much out of it as they can. If ESPN was thinking this way it would stack those two Monday night games one after the other just like it always has and hope like hell for a couple of close games to juice the ratings. Why would you make it impossible for your customer to watch both of these products you’ve paid so much to televise?

I’ve heard radio programmers and hosts recite take this same approach for more than 10 years now when it comes to making shows available on-demand. Why would you give your customers the option of consuming the product in a way that’s not as remunerative or in a way that is not measured?

That thinking is outdated and it is dangerous from an economic perspective because it means you’re trying to make the customer behave in your best interest by restricting their choices. And maybe that will work. Maybe they like that program enough that they’ll consume it in the way you’d prefer or maybe they decide that’s inconvenient or annoying or they decide to try something else and now this customer who would have listened to your product in an on-demand format is choosing to listen to someone else’s product entirely.

After all, you’re the only one that is restricting that customer’s choices because you’re the only one with a desire to keep your customer where he is. Everyone else is more than happy to give your customer something else. 

There’s a danger in holding on too tightly to the existing model because the tighter you squeeze, the more customers will slip through your fingers, and if you need a physical demonstration to complete this metaphor go grab a handful of sand and squeeze it hard.

Your business model is only as good as its ability to predict the behavior of your customers, and as soon as it stops doing that, you need to adjust that business model. Don’t just recognize the reality that customers today will exercise the freedom that all these media choices provide, embrace it.

Offer more products. Experiment with more ways to deliver those products. The more you attempt to dictate the terms of your customer’s engagement with your product, the more customers you’ll lose, and by accepting this you’ll open yourself to the reality that if your customer is going to leave your main offering, it’s better to have them hopping to another one of your products as opposed to leaving your network entirely.

Think in terms of depth of engagement, and breadth of experience. That’s clearly what ESPN is doing because conventional thinking would see the Manningcast as a program that competes with the main Monday Night Football broadcast, that cannibalizes it. ESPN sees it as a complimentary experience. An addition to the main broadcast, but it also has the benefit that if the customer feels compelled to jump away from the main broadcast – for whatever reason – it has another ESPN offering that they may land on.

I’ll be watching to see what ESPN decides going forward. The network will have three Monday Night Football doubleheaders beginning next year, and the game times have not been set. Will they line them up back-to-back as they had up until this year? If they do it will be a vote of confidence that its traditional programming approach that evening is still viable. But if they overlap those games going forward, it’s another sign that less is not more when it comes to giving your customers a choice in products.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Media Noise: Sunday Ticket Has Problems, Marcellus Wiley Does Not

Demetri Ravanos

Published

on

blank

On this episode of Media Noise, Demetri is joined by Brian Noe to talk about the wild year FS1’s Marcellus Wiley has had and by Garrett Searight to discuss the tumultuous present and bright future of NFL Sunday Ticket.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

Continue Reading
Advertisement blank
Advertisement blank

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2021 Barrett Media.