Back In The Game: What Advertisers Need To Know About The Return Of Sports To Australian Screens

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 12: James Tedesco of the Roosters scores a try during the round nine NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Canberra Raiders at Suncorp Stadium on May 12, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

It’s hard to believe that we are now just a week away from the return of live sport in Australia. In this opinion piece, Fox Sports sales and foxtel brand partnerships director Martin Medcraf tells advertisers what they can expect.

It’s no secret that Australia is sports mad. We love our codes, we idolise our leading players, and there’s nothing more we enjoy than sitting down to watch our games and screaming in pain or joy in the big moments of the big competitions.

Sport is an intrinsic part of the Australian psyche, four out of five of us agree that sport is a major part of our national culture.

So, it’s been a tough two months since the Covid-19 shutdown took away our most popular pastime. We have deeply missed the drama, elation and escape that live sport brings to our living rooms. And while we’ve been tuning in to watch the fantastic moments in our sporting history, there’s no doubt that we are waiting with bated breath for the return of sport.

That’s why the 28th May 2020 is a turning point in the history of the pandemic, when the Broncos host the Eels and NRL is finally back in our homes and on our screens.

For advertisers, there’s a few things to bear in mind as they look to support the return of Australian sport, and connect with fans.

1. Australian sport is now on the global stage: The NRL is one of the first sporting codes globally to return, alongside the German Bundesliga and South Korean K-League. There is international interest in sport returning (as this story demonstrates!) so expect the eyes of the world to be upon the league.

2. There will be a massive excitement bump: Having been starved of sport, alongside much of our normal day-to-day lives, there is a huge appetite for a return to normality. Fans will be beyond excited to see sports back on the screens and their teams back on the field.

3. Sport codes will attract whole new generations of fans: Over the past two months, we’ve seen TV audiences shift their viewing habits and open themselves up to new genres, ones they may not have watched before. With Australia cautiously opening up following the lockdown, there’s a good chance we’ll still be spending more time at home – which will give people the opportunity to try new sports. Early movers like the NRL will have a slight advantage in attracting new eyeballs, but there will still be plenty of interest in the other codes as they return to action.

4. We’ll have a lot of sport in the second half of the year: At the same time more people are at home watching TV, the changes in sports seasons will see multiple codes on our screen at the same time. NRL, AFL, A-League and the Supercar seasons may all be running concurrently. After the drought, it will seem like a flood – and sports mad Aussies will be very happy about it.

5. Fragmentation will shift how we watch sport: The embarrassment of riches when it comes to sport in the second half of this year will means some changes in how we follow sport. With so much on, we’re not going to be waiting for Friday night football on one channel, we’ll want to access everything: when we want it, how we want it. Catch-up sport will be increasing popular, and we’ll want multiple channels showcasing as much sport as possible, so we can pick and choose what we watch. At the same time, in a world where we can’t yet go the stadium, watching at home will play a critical role in breathing life back into sport, opening up many opportunities for advertisers.

2020 has been a very difficult year for the sports codes – but with sports so close to our hearts in Australia, I know that when we get back in the game, there’ll be no stopping us in reviving the fortunes of our legendary sporting moments.


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