Jun 08, 2009 at 03:36 PM
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TiVo: Sports Sponsorship Friend or Foe?

Sports media has long trumpeted itself as the one form of programming that was Tivo-proof under the theory that sports is a social event that fans want to watch live and won't time-shift. Afterall, if you're "ad killing" sports, you can't talk to your friend because they'll already know the score - and unless they're a good friend they'll spoil it for you! That's why it's interesting that the NBA partnered up with Tivo last week to as Clickz' Douglas Quenqua put it "urge viewers to record the NBA finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic."

Whether you believe that sports is or is not affected by Tivo, whether you believe that sports like the rest of network TV ratings are or are not declining and whether you believe that sports programming rights-fees will or will not continue to climb indefinitely... a statistically significant (albeit smaller than other programming and perhaps more "anti-social") share of viewers will be zapping sports in the future. Technologies like Tivo will find new ways to bring zapping closer to real time, while filling commercial breaks with fan-friendly and more relevant content (than ads). iTV will make the experience more interactive and social - a natural fit with sports. Properties can no longer dismiss Tivo and proclaim their properties DVR-proof. While the NBA was the first to formally partner up with Tivo, don't think that other properties aren't finding new ways to Tivo-proof their partner's presence.

Last week both the NFL and WNBA announced jersey sponsorships and the brand new United Football League announced they'll be breaking new ground with on-field/in-game sponsorship assets.

Try zapping a jersey, Tivo. As properties relax the rules and find new ways to "get brands into the game," will more marketing dollars shift away from traditional media to integrated sponsorship deals?