RSNs and Political Advertising

Regional Sports Networks (RSNs): Targeted Advertising at Its Finest, Even for Political Campaigns

June 14, 2023

By: Stephen Ullman, President and Founder, Political Marketing + Media

Political advertisers sometimes make the mistake of thinking placing an ad on a national network is the best way to get the word out about their candidate or issue.  However, on television, there is a great way to target precise voters in a specific location, giving a far better result.  We often recommend campaigns take advantage of Regional Sports Networks or RSNs.  Today I delve into the benefits and some examples of how this can give you a better bang for your buck.

First off, in the ever-evolving landscape of political advertising, reaching a specific audience is crucial for maximizing the impact of campaigns. One powerful avenue for political advertisers to achieve this is through RSNs. These networks not only provide captivating sports content but also offer a unique platform for political campaigns to connect with a highly targeted audience. In this blog post, we will explore the ways in which RSNs help political advertisers reach their desired voter base, along with real-life examples showcasing their effectiveness.

  1. Geographically Focused Advertising: Political campaigns are often tailored to specific regions, and RSNs can help target voters within those areas. For instance, a mayoral candidate in Chicago would benefit from advertising during local Chicago Bulls games on a regional sports network like NBC Sports Chicago. By reaching local sports fans, the candidate can increase awareness of their campaign and target potential voters in their constituency.

Example: During the mayoral race in Chicago, a candidate aired commercials on NBC Sports Chicago highlighting their plans to improve community sports programs and invest in local sports facilities. By reaching avid sports fans who were passionate about their community, the candidate gained visibility, connected with voters, and showcased their commitment to issues that mattered to the local population.

  1. Demographic Targeting: RSNs cover a variety of sports, attracting different demographic groups. Political advertisers can leverage this knowledge to tailor their messaging to specific voter demographics. Whether it's targeting young adults through basketball or older adults through baseball, RSNs provide a platform to reach the desired voter demographic with precision.

Example: A political campaign focusing on education reform partnered with an RSN broadcasting college football games. By strategically placing ads during these broadcasts, the campaign was able to reach a broad audience of college football fans, including younger voters. The campaign highlighted the candidate's plans for improving education, resonating with young adults who were passionate about both sports and their future.

  1. Engaging Niche Audiences: Sports fans are known for their passion and dedication, making them an engaged audience. Political campaigns can benefit from this enthusiasm by advertising on RSNs and connecting with fans who are more likely to pay attention to the ads. This provides a unique opportunity for campaigns to create memorable and impactful messages.

Example: A gubernatorial campaign in Texas partnered with an RSN covering local high school football games. During halftime, they aired a powerful commercial featuring the candidate discussing their vision for investing in schools and sports programs across the state. The combination of the candidate's message and the viewers' passion for their local teams resulted in increased awareness and support for the campaign among avid sports fans and parents.

  1. Integration with Digital Platforms: RSNs have expanded their reach beyond traditional television, embracing digital platforms to engage with their audience. Political campaigns can leverage this digital presence by combining targeted online ads, social media promotions, and even sponsorships of interactive features, such as live game streaming or sports-related content.

Example: A senatorial campaign partnered with an RSN's mobile app, which provided live updates and analysis of political events alongside sports coverage. As users engaged with the app, they were exposed to the campaign's ads, increasing brand visibility and engagement. Additionally, the campaign leveraged the RSN's social media platforms to run interactive political quizzes and share campaign updates, fostering further engagement and voter interaction.

Conclusion: Regional sports networks offer political campaigns a powerful means to reach a targeted audience. By combining geographic targeting, demographic specificity, niche audience engagement, and integration with digital platforms, RSNs provide a unique opportunity to connect with voters in a meaningful way. The examples highlighted in this blog demonstrate the success achieved by political campaigns that have harnessed the potential as the political advertising landscape continues to evolve, RSNs remain a valuable channel for campaigns looking to make a lasting impact on their target audience.

  1. Reaching Engaged Voters: RSNs provide a platform to reach engaged voters who are actively involved in their communities and passionate about sports. These viewers are more likely to pay attention to political advertisements during their favorite sports programming, leading to higher engagement and message retention.

Example: A local ballot measure campaign aimed at improving park infrastructure partnered with an RSN airing regional soccer matches. They strategically placed commercials during halftime, showcasing the deteriorating conditions of local parks and the positive impact the ballot measure would have. This approach resonated with soccer fans who were also passionate about preserving community spaces, leading to increased awareness and support for the campaign.

  1. Leveraging Sports Personalities: Sports networks often feature renowned athletes and sports personalities who have significant influence over their fan base. Political campaigns can leverage the popularity and credibility of these figures to enhance their messaging and connect with voters on a personal level.

Example: A congressional campaign in a district with a famous former basketball player aired a series of ads during basketball games on an RSN. These commercials featured the athlete expressing their support for the candidate and highlighting shared values. By leveraging the sports figure's influence, the campaign successfully captured the attention of sports fans and increased the candidate's likability and credibility.

  1. Real-Time Engagement: RSNs provide opportunities for political campaigns to engage with viewers in real-time, fostering a sense of community and active participation. This can be done through interactive features, such as live polls, Q&A sessions, or even live campaign events that are broadcasted alongside sports content.

Example: A mayoral campaign hosted a live town hall event during a popular local basketball game, which was streamed on the RSN's website and social media platforms. Viewers were encouraged to participate by submitting questions and opinions related to key city issues. The campaign's candidate addressed these questions during breaks in the game, fostering a sense of connection and demonstrating their commitment to transparency and voter engagement.

Conclusion: Regional sports networks offer political campaigns a unique opportunity to reach a targeted and engaged audience. By combining geographical targeting, demographic specificity, engaging niche audiences, and leveraging digital integration, RSNs can help political campaigns maximize their advertising efforts. The examples provided in this blog illustrate the effectiveness of utilizing RSNs to connect with voters on a personal level, build awareness, and foster engagement. As political advertising continues to evolve, RSNs remain a valuable tool for campaigns seeking to make a significant impact on their desired voter base.

If you have any questions about how your political campaign can benefit from advertising on RSNs, feel free to contact me at info@politicalmarketingandmedia or on the phone at 212-729-7849.  Also don’t forget to like us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram @PMMRocks.

Tags:  Political Advertising, Elections, RSNs, Sports Advertising, Elections, Campaigns