local media insider

Packaging a $42,000 High School Sports Contest



High school sports contests are becoming more popular - and five figure revenues in a few cases. This example shows how the Friday Night Overtime Created by Channel 7, WJHG TV in Panama City,  Florida was packaged to include a combination of advertising, high-touch elements and tie-ins with larger sporting events to secure top dollars:  Four "exclusive" sponsors who paid a total of $42,000. 

The secret sauce is in the packaging.  

WJHG TV created  two main exclusive sponsorships: The Player of the Week and Score Board sponsor, who both received significant on-air and online campaigns including spots on the Sunday night Pro games, although the contest had its own unique revenue category. The player of the week was announced on-air, creating local heroes...and fans. 

To get a feel for the high-touch community engagement - and the level of detail of the multi-media packages, here are the packages used to sell the top sponsors. Pay attention to how small touchy-feeling details like logos on the game football and photographer's T-shirts, are combined with air-time :

The player of the week sponsor package

*Logo on shared weekly promos, category exclusive. Airs min. 20xper week on WJHG, CW and MY 7

*Logo and Audio Mention during Player of the week segment

*1xad (160x250) with click through on the FNO Bracket Contest at WJHG.com

*40,000 impressions per month on WJHG.com - 3 display sizes 510x60, 160x600, 300x250

*Logo inclusion on shirts worn by photography staff while shooting game

*Exclusive logo on 1/3 of the souvenir footballs to be thrown at weekly games (20x game)

*Sponsor to provide weekly prize for online bracket giveaway and weekly plaque for the player of the week winner

*1x:30 commercial spot during FNO broadcast for the duration of the season

The Scoreboard sponsor details

*Sponsor logo on shared weekly promos (category exclusive). Airs Min. 20x per week on wjhg, CW, and My 7

*1x (160x240) ad with click through on the Friday Night overtime bracket contet at WJHG.com

*40,000 imporessions per month on WJHG.com (3 display sies 510x60, 160x6000, 300x250)

*Logo inclusion on shirts worn by photography staff while shooting games

*Exclusive logo on 1/3 of the souvenir footballs to be thrown at weekly games (aprox 20 per game)

*Sponsor to provide weekly prize for online Bracket giveaway

Power-point visuals show the coverage and promotional opportunities clearly. We've noticed that showing the exact on-air/online/email/facebook/mobile placements, and high-lighting them in red, is a new best practice, especially for complex multi-media packages (see this kind of adept packaging in Richmond Media Group's political packages as well here). 

The first Power Point shows the stations commitment to covering high school sports, followed by the sponsor's logo on "Player of the Week" as it appears on the screen: 

And here are the red sponsorship ad positions on the contest web site, below. 

We apoligize for the blurry screen shots, these images are not available online. 

Another top success story for high school sports sales is a  contest created by WSAZ TV’s, who secured one with two major title sponsors, Turnpike Chevrolet as the “presented by” sponsor and Dairy Queen as the prize sponsor. Between the two the contest generated five figures, and 900 entrants.

The key to the prize sponsorship helping Dairy Queen build a text opt-in list; but this could just as easily be used for other objectives such as building fans, emails, etc. In this case the "Prize sponsor" Dairy Queen ran a text-opt-in promotion on the contest site: Text DQ to 754324 for a buy-one-get-one-free Blizzard coupon. The offer changed weekly.

Both sponsorships were packaged with on-air advertising for Pro Games on Sundays. Note the below visual with the  text offer circled in red,  a great way to let the sponsor  "see" what they will get. 

WSAZ said keys to success for this campaign were the exclusivity, including all high school in the coverage area (this was more than one hundred), and to beginning sell for next year as soon as season is over.


1. Build multi-media packages that include high-touch elements such as logos on high school game footballs and photographer T-shirts,  with traditional media buys that include extra ads in prime time/location.  

2. While these did not include social media, best practices today is to add a set number of social media updates on Facebook and Twitter, and to run the contests on Facebook in addition to the web site.   

3. In sales materials use Power Point - or if you want to get creative, a $19 iPad platform called FlipSnack that creates a "Page turner". Create visual screen-shots of exactly how the sponsor will be seen and high-light these in red. 

4. Make sponsorships - even multiple sponsorships - "exclusive"  by creating different kinds, such as "Scoreboard," "Player of the week,"  'Presenting" or "Prize" sponsorships. 

5. Top sponsors include auto and kids-oriented fast food. High school sports will also sell to any high-touch local business catering to families such as a dentist  or pediatrician. 

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