Sportsbook Operators Pared TV Advertising for First Time in 2023

Posted on: May 3, 2024, 04:38h. 

Last updated on: May 3, 2024, 04:38h.

Soon after the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018, sportsbook television commercials became commonplace.

Carl Weathers
The late Carl Weathers (driver) and retired NFL star Rob Gronkowski in a FanDuel commercial. Sports betting advertising decline in 2023. (Image: Fast Company)

So much so that sports fans and regulators in some jurisdictions took notice, complaining that the gaming industry was going too far with sportsbook spots during game broadcasts. Sportsbook operators may have gotten the message as 2023 represented the first year of lower sports betting advertising since the fall of PAPSA, according to Nielsen. The Nielsen study was conducted at the request of the American Gaming Association (AGA).

Total advertising spend related to sports betting (including daily fantasy sports) declined $210 million compared to 2022, a 15% decline. Excluding DFS, sports betting ad spending was down 21% from 2022,” according to the trade group.

Major online sportsbook operators such as FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM are AGA members.

Sportsbook Ads Decline Across Variety of Mediums

In the go-go days of sports wagering marketing — the period running from 2019 through 2021 — gaming companies spent profligately on advertising and promotions in the names of top-line growth and adding market share.

That included commercials with celebrity endorsers and pricey spots run during marquee events, such as the Super Bowl. While those tactics remain a fixture of the industry today, the focus has shifted to more economical advertising expenditures and avenues through which to control costs to appease investors that are more focused on the bottom line.

Those are likely among the reasons why sportsbook advertising in 2023 decline across all channels, not just television.

“Sports betting ad volume was down 4% year-over-year across all channels, having contracted 20% from the 2021 peak,” added the AGA. “Advertising volume across TV—the largest category for sports-betting advertisers—declined more—11%—and has decreased 33% since 2021.”

Sportsbook Ads Still Well Behind Other Industries

While the regulated sports betting industry was one of the largest growers in percentage in terms of advertising expenditures from 2019 through 2022, it commands a scant share of TV ad volume relative to other industries.

“Sports Betting’s share of total TV advertising volume was 0.4% in 2023, slightly lower than Alcohol (0.5%), Telecom/Wireless (1.5%), Fast Food (3.8%) and dwarfed by Pharmaceuticals (14.1%),” observed the AGA.

Putting those numbers into context, for each sports betting commercial in 2023, there were eight spots from fast food chains and a staggering 31 from pharmaceuticals firms. That made the 3-to-1 margin enjoyed by cell phone companies over sportsbooks appear tame.

Interestingly, there was no comparison of sportsbook ads against the auto insurance group, which is one of the most prolific TV advertisers. Based on the $210 million spent on advertising last year by sportsbook operators, just three companies combined – Abbvie, Procter & Gamble, and Walt Disney — spent more on TV ads last year than the entire regulated sports betting industry spent on all forms of advertising.