TV & Streaming

Sports streaming fragmentation is a boon for advertisers

It might be frustrating for consumers, but more platforms offer a chance to "play the field," one agency exec said.
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Francis Scialabba

3 min read

Want to catch an NFL game on Christmas? Head to Netflix. Trying to watch a WNBA game on a Tuesday or Thursday? It’s probably on Amazon’s Prime Video. Hoping to see an NBA game in 2026? Well, which streamer those games might land on is still up in the air.

No matter the sport, you get the picture: with streaming services snapping up live sports rights left and right, the sports streaming landscape is becoming increasingly fragmented. It’s leaving some consumers frustrated, and potentially with less money in their pockets. But the evolution of sports on streaming services presents new advertising opportunities for brands—even though audiences are more fragmented than ever.

“It’s actually pretty good to play the field and figure out and get the best negotiated costs,” Mackenzie Leahy, senior strategy director and head of connections and performance at Ogilvy, said.

New possibilities

While many streamers are betting on sports, the packages they’re securing are usually date- or team-specific, Jeff Gagne, SVP, client lead at Havas, said. That means that ad agencies can leverage those specifics to create tailored streaming ad buy plans for the brands they work with based around those dates or teams.

“If you have a client that wants to activate around Christmas Day, Netflix and the NFL becomes a very attractive opportunity,” Gagne told Marketing Brew. “It comes down to ensuring the audience that we want to reach is available on the appropriate platform at the appropriate time.”

The rapid rise in popularity of women’s sports also presents new opportunities for buyers. More interest and investment has recently gone toward women’s basketball, soccer, and volleyball, and brands are leaning into the chance to show up in front of those growing audiences—those games, too, are sprinkled across the media landscape.

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“From a media standpoint, it’s an opportunity to really get in on a new league and have content and hours of programming that brands want,” said David Levy, co-founder and co-CEO of Horizon Sports & Experiences, about the newly formed women’s pro basketball league Unrivaled, in which HS&E is an investor. HS&E is also working on sponsorship sales for the league, and Levy is working on media rights.

Bringing it together

While there are plenty of programming options for advertisers to choose from, there’s another trend in the sports media space that stands to make at least some buying a bit less fragmented: bundles. Venu Sports, the forthcoming joint sports streaming venture from Warner Bros. Discovery Fox, and ESPN, which will bring together sports programming from all the three.

“It’s consolidated,” Leahy told us. “It makes [it] easier to find our audiences.”

For now, though, linear TV remains an important part of sports advertisers’ strategies, and, according to Leahy, streaming is often supplemental.

“Big traditional sports packages are not being replaced by streamers,” Gagne said. “They’re being enhanced, and they’re being amplified with new opportunities and new impressions and carved-out packages that allow streamers to test into the same space that broadcasters have had great success with for many years.”

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