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Friday Poll: How Do You Sell High School Football?

    • 1361 posts
    August 23, 2018 5:42 PM PDT


    Happy Friday, everyone!

    I've been hearing from my radio clients that they're gearing up for high school football, so I thought it would be a timely topic for a poll question:

    What kinds of ad packages do you sell for high school football? What game sponsorships do you offer?

    Looking forward to reading your replies!

    This post was edited by Rebecca Hunt at August 23, 2018 10:11 PM PDT
    • 102 posts
    August 24, 2018 9:47 AM PDT

    I have always been a fan of the 12 month plan. The first station I went to work for in 1978 did this. It was not a high school sports package but rather a Youth Booster package. Such a sponsor got one thirty second unit a day, 7 days a week. Anything we did that involved the youth, the client was attached. This included not only high school sports but things like live remote broadcasts from the 4-H show in January and a few other things. Perhaps this was because the station only aired some football games and unless the basketball or baseball teams did well, we typically did not air those games. The school usually lost more games than they won.

    Even for a mediocre school in the world of scholastic sports, we really had the sponsors. Those clients that managed to nab the sponsorship, hung on to it for dear life. Only 2 or 3 of the 48 (if I recall correctly) didn't renew each year. There were always more takers than there were unsold slots.

    The Youth Booster package was to be a supplement to advertising. In today's dollars, it was about $120 a month. You were guaranteed a spot in each 'live' youth oriented feature we did. Normally that would be about half a dozen games, the 4-H show and maybe another school related thing. Mainly you got the spot each day.

    Many of the youth booster sponsors bought regular advertising packages in addition. Likely half of them had businesses popular with the youth and got their daily spot after 7 pm in the evening. In a small towns spots after 7 in the evening were rare but typically we were running about 8 to 12 units an hour until about 9 to 10 each evening. In fact, back then the youth boosters provided about 2/3rds to 75% of the monthly expenses without taking much valuable daytime inventory. The average youth booster spent about $200 a month or about $550 in today's money.

    One station I worked maximized the number of accounts for high school sports by doing 10 second spots inside games. This station did boys and girls teams, football through baseball. The did a few baseball games in summer (Little League?). Literally the person doing color did the spots live as they were written on 3 by 5 note cards on a notebook ring. In football you could slip in a spot between each play and each pitch in baseball. They were mentioned in promos but there were about 60 so they only got about a mention a day. While I do not recall the actual rate charged monthly, back in 1981 the rate was based on $20 per event covered multiplied by number of events a year. If you covered a boys and girls game on the same night, that counted as 2 events. Literally the town revolved around it's school. The oil business was going strong and we had everyone involved sponsoring because of the good PR.

    In both of these instances, the idea was the sponsor did not use all their budget on youth but supplemented their advertising with the sponsorship. These are both small market radio examples.

    The most ingenious idea I've seen is a fellow that bought time from me to air high school spots on the station I managed in a major market. His concept was to contact the booster club at schools and offer to cover games live or by tape delay. He would center on agency driven buys but require the booster club to sell local advertising for the games, giving them a financial threshold they must meet to qualify. He had no issue getting several games a week. He told me many times the booster clubs sold ads for the printing of the programs for each game, so it was a natural fit. He would stream the games as well. To say he did well is an understatement. Best of all, I got full rate for time I couldn't sell without a steep discount. He didn't care if a school wanted a key game covered or the whole season. He created demand for the full season because he said the amount of airtime was limited and once it filled up, that was it. He told them if they didn't go the full season, they might be unable to get that key game aired. Quite frankly, depending on how much the booster club would put in it, the better he did. Once the ball was rolling booster clubs saw it as somewhat of a competition to win regular airtime, opting for the whole season. They could be replaced if they only met the threshold.

    Don't just think football. I knew a guy in Greenville, PA. They covered wrestling and it was really popular.

    • 59 posts
    August 24, 2018 11:56 AM PDT
    We tried the year round sports sponsorship which left about $75,000 in revenue on the table. We have now gone back to selling sports seasons by the game. If they sponsor all of the games of a season, they get a small discount. We also sell a player of the game/tournament/match which is usually a burger or pizza place that gives a meal to the player of the game. We sell half time sponsors too.
    We use the same strategy for selling Little League baseball and softball.

    Julie Lekwauwa
    Ketchikan Radio Center
    • 1361 posts
    August 24, 2018 3:26 PM PDT

    From Scott Hornberger on the RSC Facebook page: "I have a low monthly fee that the clients are invoiced over a 9 month period. This includes them in all sports we cover; football, basketball and baseball. Playoffs and tournament play is included. We also have exclusive sponsorship at a premium for pregame, halftime and post game reports. The newest created sponsorship is a program that airs during the pregame report: three keys to victory. The spots director will give his thoughts on what he believes to be the three keys to victory for the home team. I sold that to a locksmith. ...One more opportunity that I will mention is the 'red zone alert' for hs football. When a team get's into the red zone of the field, (10 yard line or closer to the end zone), our sports announcer will announce 'This is your Excellence in Dentistry Red Zone alert!' Our board op back at the studio when then activate an alert sounder! There are so many ways to get creative with high school sports sponsorships!"




    • 1 posts
    August 20, 2019 8:35 PM PDT

    We broadcast local high school football, girls basketball and boys basketball.   Only one high school in the county.   We also broadcast a major university football and men's basketball games. We sell a package called "Total Sports Package."   Sponsors get ads on each broadcast, starting in August with high school football and continuing thru March with basketball.   We bill sponsors over a 12 month period.  They love it because they spread out their costs, and we like the guaranteed revenue for 12 months, not just 8 or so.   For pregame in high school football, we sell "specialty sponsors", which include Keys to a Victory" (sponsored by local used car dealer), game officials, game time weather, kickoff, game officials, national anthem, end of quarter stats, halftime stats, and post game show with the coach.   Similar pre and post game shows during high school basketball games.   One of the best community engagement, visibility things we do each year, and have for 40 plus years.