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‘History was made:’ Why the Bills-Chiefs playoff has marketers all fired up

‘History was made:’ Why the Bills-Chiefs playoff has marketers all fired up

Illustration by Kristin deNeeve and Nick DeSantis / Shutterstock, Getty / The Current

Marketers from Disney, Samsung assess live TV advertising in the streaming era

The recent NFL playoff thriller on CBS — where the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills in overtime — had 43 million fans glued to the screen. The game was the most-watched program on any network since last year’s Super Bowl LV. CBS Sports declared it the most-streamed non-Super Bowl game of all time after it also aired on the network’s Paramount+ streaming platform.

The epic reach of the game was not lost on U.S. marketers for whom the NFL has always generated the most sought-after inventory on earth. Factoring in the huge surge in the streaming audience, it’s clear that live sports and linear are no longer an exclusive partnership. That streaming impact of the Bills-Chiefs game had marketers fired up during a panel entitled “In the Zeitgeist: Live TV Advertising in the Streaming Era” featured at Variety’s Winter Entertainment Summit on January 27.

“History was made over the weekend. There were upsets. There were overtimes. There were opportunities to take advantage of the greatest engagement in the game which was unpredictable. That’s the beauty of sport,” said Lisa Valentino, the EVP of client and brand solutions at Disney Advertising. “And so, from the programmatic standpoint, you can take advantage of that. You can control for frequency. You can control for those big cultural moments if you’re being proactive on the programmatic side of things.”

Valentino was joined by Janet Lee, the VP and CMO of the mobile experience at Samsung Electronics America, and The Trade Desk’s CRO, Tim Sims, who reminded everyone that half of Americans do not or never have subscribed to cable, while a third of adults now watch sports on streaming platforms. The Bills-Chiefs game was the latest and greatest case in point.

“The incredible thing about live is that it is a moment in time when you can’t predict what's going to happen, but from a marketer’s perspective you can kind of ride that engagement and those powerful moments in time for the consumer and deliver an important and customized message to them at that moment,” said Sims. “That’s really the opportunity when it comes to streaming plus programmatic in a live environment.”

Samsung’s Janet Lee touched on the challenges of building creative that matched the right audience at the right time. She talked about the need for brands to have a robust first-party data platform and management system, which would allow for more precise targeting and better performance for campaigns. Lee expressed a desire for Samsung to keep learning about the best way to tie in its data within the context of the streaming environment, especially as it related to tentpole events like the Super Bowl. “If we can strategize and plan forward based on the results from this year…, we can plan for something bigger and be there at the right time as a brand when audiences are really engaged,” she said.

“You look at these moments like the Super Bowl and other cultural moments that happen – they are all opportunities,” added Valentino. “There are more and more opportunities to keep building. If we just watch the consumer, it’s going to take us to very interesting places over the next year.”