TV Sportscasts: Barrier to Viewing or Reason to Keep Watching?

Disclosure Statement: Before reading this article, please realize the writer was a sportscaster for 10 years and continues to be an avid sports fan. This is written as a way to help make sports relevant to current TV viewers.  

Sportscasts inside local TV newscast face an uncertain future. As is the case with Weather & News, Sports consumption in the digital space has a direct impact on why/if viewers want information in a TV newscast. It has to pass the same Immediacy/Impact test as the rest of the content.

Unique to sports versus weather or news is the audience composition. Pretty much everybody watching a local TV newscast is inclined to be interested in News & Weather content but with traditional sports….the audience composition is much different.
Every viewer in all local television markets can generally be put into one of the following three groups as it relates to their interest in sports:

1. Sports Fanatics
- Crazy about sports
- Consume a lot of sports scores/news online
- Active on Social Media

2. Sometimes Sports Fans
- Keep up on the Big Sports Stories
- Not interested in the “inside baseball” stuff
 - Love the community side of what sports delivers

3. Sports Antagonists
- Uses the remote control when sports is mentioned
- Doesn’t understand why sports is even part of a local newscast
- Tolerates shorter segments with non-traditional sports content

In the average local TV market each group consists of approximately 33%. In markets with a professional sports team or major college, the groups might not all be equal at 33%. But our research indicates there are Sports Antagonists in every market and the Sports Fanatics group is never as big as the sportscasters think.
Given the audience composition, we can create a barrier to viewing when we use sports as a subject in our topicals, headlines and teases.

When sports is the subject everyone is talking about (In Houston, Astros winning the World Series) the top two groups are “all in” while the Sports Antagonists will understand why it’s in the news but may still turn the channel.  

But on an average day for sports, the Antagonists are completely uninterested. The Sometimes Fans are only mildly interested. The Sports Fanatics might not even be interested if we tease stories they already know.

When we build out our sportscasts we need to make sure we are including content that will reach the Fanatics & Sometimes Sports Fans and might, just might, be interesting to the Antagonists. When we use sports as tease content, we must remember all three groups.  

Consider the following story: 

Is this is a Sports Story?  Is it a Health Story?  Is it a Feature Story?  Call it what you want, these kinds of stories have a chance to resonate with all three Sports Groups.  

It does not have to air as a Package or in-depth story or even one that has a local tie. If the pros are huffing Smelling Salts (it’s big in the NHL too) how long will it be before you see them on college and high school sidelines and what are the consequences?  

It’s important to find stories that will resonate with all three sports group and be consistent in having them in every sportscast. Tease those stories along with whatever you think will get the Sometimes Sports Fans & Fanatics to keep watching. Telling viewers “we’ll hear from the coach” never really worked but it especially doesn’t work today!