What The CBS Sports Deal Means for CrossFit Affiliates

Last year’s broadcast of the CrossFit Games on ESPN2 yielded an average of 336-361,000 live viewers. About 60% of those were age 18-49 (ESPN2’s target demographic–although that’s a pretty broad target.)
That’s about a fifth of the MLB Sunday night game. Pretty great for a niche sport like ours. Track and Field competitions, non-title boxing competitions and recap shows all ranked higher during the same week, but women’s tennis and arena football were both ranked lower. Replays of the Games boost those numbers even higher, while “mainstream” sports don’t usually enjoy the repeat viewership. This is interesting, because it suggests that we want to see the actual events unfold…not just catch the score. That’s great news for advertisers and a good sign for longevity.
The relationship with ESPN2 has helped push CrossFit into the public eye; added CrossFit to the list of possible fitness choices for a broader swath of viewers; and generally enhanced our profile from “cult” to “sport”.
Yesterday, CBS Sports announced a new two-year broadcast deal for the 2017 and 2018 CrossFit Games. Read it here: https://www.cbssports.com/general/news/cbs-sports-to-telecast-crossfit-games-through-2018/
While ESPN boasts about its “broad portfolio” and total live broadcast hours, CBS Sports should actually be a better media opportunity for CrossFit AFFILIATES. Here’s why:

  • Demographic targeting is better.
  • Mean household income is higher for CBS Sports than any other sports network. Since we’re selling a premium coaching service, these are the folks we want to reach.
  • CBS Sports ranks #1 among viewers in “Professional and Related Occupations” – in other words, high earners with daytime jobs – again, our target market.
  • Over 63% of CBS Sports viewers has a college education or higher, which suggests (to me) a higher affinity for coaching and learning.
  • CBS Sports also has a higher reported proportion of female viewers (23%) and the Games should boost that number even higher. Only the Olympics and Track and Field events showed Men’s and Women’s events in the same broadcast–until now.

Interestingly, CBS is promoting the show as “the single largest participatory sporting event in the world”, NOT “The fittest on earth”. That’s a great start to placing the Games in the context of the everyman. As Greg Glassman said, “They are those that have climbed Everest, but we’re all mountain climbers.” This is borne out by the replay figures I mentioned earlier. Have you ever watched a baseball game more than once? How about a tennis match?
ESPN2 got a LOT of people to watch CrossFit on TV. I think CBS Sports will get more of the RIGHT people to watch it.
See you in Madison!


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