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Fly The W: Fox Wins Big with Native Ads

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This year™’s World Series had all the makings of a Hollywood sports movie: Two historic teams, great storylines, young stars and Bill Murray.

Despite the country running on a collective zero hours of sleep in the days after the series, it™’s not hyperbole to say that this will go down as one of the best Fall Classics in baseball history.

While the Cubs and Indians delivered a great on-field product, Fox Sports delivered just as good of a performance on the airwaves. Though Joe Buck and John Smoltz were solid in the booth, where Fox Sports really delivered was with their studio commentary.

Not only did two of the most noted egomaniacs of their generations, Pete Rose and Alex Rodriguez, get along, but Fox Sports was also able to monetize their studio team™’s air time. Fox Sports decision to essentially turn their studio booth into native advertising for T-Mobile was a stroke of genius.

Rather than going to a block of commercials, at some breaks during each game, Fox Sports cut away to their studio crew for a “commercial-free break,” sponsored by T-Mobile. The T-Mobile logo was displayed on the set during the segment, which was capped off by a :30-second T-Mobile plug.

The partnership was a win-win-win for all parties: Fans got refreshing commentary in lieu of droning commercials, T-Mobile got two-and-a-half minutes of ad time, and Fox Sports was still able to make ad money. Recognizing the increasing popularity of native advertising, Fox Sports has found one more way to deliver ad time to brands.

Early returns are promising and Fox Sports intends to test the format on some of their other programming. The format would work especially well for a sport like NASCAR, where there are no breaks in the action.

While many in the sports industry have debated the inevitability of teams having jersey sponsorships (like in soccer), or even team name sponsorships, as in other baseball leagues (Chicago Doublemint Gum Cubs, anyone?), Fox Sports has given viewers and advertisers a glimpse of the future with their new native advertising.

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