Given the sheer amount of baseball, football, basketball and ice hockey on cable, the game of Golf is usually not the first sport that comes to mind when you think of ad-supported cable television. But in terms of the sheer number of programming hours, Golf is indeed the King of Cable Sports! In 2015, for example, over a dozen cable networks (led by Golf Channel) generated nearly 11 hours a day of tournament golf programming spread fairly evenly across the entire year:
Far and away the leader in tournament golf on cable is the Golf Channel, which accounted for nearly three-quarters of all programming hours in 2015:
Golf Channel’s Upscale Profile
To some degree, there has been a certain level of democratization for the game of golf – spurred on, perhaps, by one of the greatest golfers in modern times (Tiger Woods) who learned the game – not at some swanky country club – but on public golf courses. But when it comes to watching the game of golf on television (especially Golf Channel), the audience is decidedly upscale.
In order to quantify Golf Channel’s core audience we turned to Acxiom PersonicX, which is a household-level consumer segmentation analysis that divides practically every home in America into one of seventy unique clusters across an array of demographic, behavior-graphic and lifestyle characteristics. By matching the unique characteristics of PersonicX clusters to their set-top-box panel homes, Rentrak has created PersonicX HH ratings for all the programs they measure.
Out of 70 PersonicX Clusters, we uncovered a dozen with a 115 or greater ratings index for Golf Channel. Notice the four clusters with the highest ratings index: Established Elite (161 Index); Corporate Clout (152 Index); Summit Estates (150 Index); and, Skyboxes & Suburbans (143 Index.) In terms of income and net worth, these are the four most upscale clusters (out of 70) that Acxiom measures:
Local Cable Advertising
Local cable advertising support for golf has been very strong over the past two years in which 400+ clients have ordered 20,000 :30-second spots across 57 Viamedia markets (80% of our national footprint.) That comes to an average of 46 spots per client.(Source: B.I.G.SM database — Copyright © 2016 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved)
In comparing local cable ad demand from 2014 (226 clients) to 2015 (283 clients), we calibrated all of our internal ad sales data on a per client basis. What we found is that the average amount spent per client rose 24% and was primarily driven by an increase in average unit pricing. (Source: B.I.G.SM database — Copyright © 2016 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved)
Given the year-round coverage of golf on cable, we find advertising activity throughout the year, starting with one-fifth of all spots ordered in the first quarter, and then accelerating from there, reaching a peak in the third quarter (44%), before dropping off in the fourth quarter:
In terms of local cable advertising categories, it is no surprise that automotive captures nearly one-half of all expenditures on golf programming. And while it is also not surprising that Sporting & Outdoor Recreation Goods is the second leading category, we should point out that its 27% share far surpasses this category’s share company-wide (which runs in the low single-digit range):
As I write this blog, a warm April sun has descended upon the New York Tri-State area, putting to rest (I hope) the last vestiges of winter. But I doubt our local duffers missed that much golf over the past several months. Somewhere in the world it’s always summer and a golf tournament can always be found on the Golf Channel. So there was plenty to watch during the winter months. And then coming up in the spring, some of the other cable networks will kick in with golf coverage of their own, beginning with ESPN in April (the Masters Tournament); Fox Sports 1 in June (the U.S. Open); and TNT in late July (the U.S. PGA Championship.) And linking these together with a different tournament practically every week of the year is the Golf Channel. In other words, enough cable content to satisfy the most inveterate golf fans, as well local advertisers who want to reach this very upscale cable audience.
For more information on Viamedia, visit www.viamediatv.com.
– Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia