Benefits of Using a Long-Term Sports Contract for A Local Media Buy

Local Media Strategy

Choosing to pursue a long-term sports contract will allow you to add focus, consistency and long-term savings to your local media buy.

Advertisers are often hesitant to commit to a multi-year or long-term sports contract, as it locks up a large amount of capital and cannot be cancelled without the consequence of steep penalties. There are also no guarantees a baseball team will continue to win or a highly touted player will remain popular for an extended amount of time.

HOWEVER, there are a couple of major advantages in securing a multi-year sports contract.  Capitalizing on these advantages will maximize the life and effectiveness of a contract, and in the end, prove far more beneficial for your local media buy than simply buying one piece of the puzzle at a time.

Two notable advantages of securing a long-term sports contract are as follows:

Locking in Costs

Inevitably, the cost of advertising will rise. It is immensely challenging to negotiate flat rates year over year.

However, most companies will lock in your rate and/or yearly cost for the duration of your contract if you commit beyond one year. It benefits the seller to have those committed dollars “on the books” in advance. It benefits you, the buyer, in that you know your exact spend and the cost will not rise, no matter how successful or well a sports team is doing.

Your spots are guaranteed and protected.  Advertisers that choose to commit to a spend last minute, or as a team is succeeding, pay rates that are often doubled, that is, if they can even garner a spot in the big game.

For example, the last time the Cincinnati Reds achieved a place in the post season, a large influx of advertisers jumped on the bandwagon, seeking inventory in the playoffs. These new advertisers were either paying large sums, at the last minute, or unable to buy spots in the local radio broadcast.

Since our client had a consistent, multi-year contract with the team and their broadcast partners, we were able to lock as many post season spots as we needed, at our negotiated spot rate. This was prime real estate, secured quickly and easily.

In addition, locking in low rates allows you to piggyback and maximize your relationship when a team is doing well, but also gives you the ability to negotiate the ratings and guaranteed performance in times of drought. A long-term partner is valuable, one and special consideration should always be given to these established relationships.

Maybe you need a mascot for a new store opening. This may be an excellent opportunity to capitalize on your valued investment and relationship.


Once a contract is signed, proper planning can take place and deliverables defined. Negotiating up front also allows for more time to organize, secure and maximize creative, and prepare for a local media campaign.  Over the course of the contract, improvements can be made, items tested and adjustments made.

As with any investment, there will be highs and lows. But, you have the funds and the patience, so riding the highs and being equipped for the lows of a long-term contract will yield dividends.

The last time the Reds entered the post season, our client had relevant and timely creative ready to go.  A new spot did not need to be created and all deadlines were easily attainable, despite the short notice of game dates and times.

As with all major advertising decisions and spends, knowing your product and your audience, and ultimately possessing a keen understanding of who your customer is at the core, will ensure entering into a long-term sports contract pays off with guaranteed low rates, a valuable partnership and a consistent on-air presence.

photo credit: james_clear via photopin cc

Leslie Kill

About Leslie Kill

Leslie is an Associate Media Director at Sheehy+Associates, a regional advertising, marketing and media agency. She has been entrenched in media for a little over 10 years, allowing her the privilege to work with clients and in markets big, small and many places in between.

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