The National Football League season kicked off this past week. With millions of sports fans huddled around TV’s watching games, the NFL has a reputation for owning some of the most coveted advertising spots in media.
California football fans who were watching their hometown teams on Sunday got sports content in commercial breaks, too. Yes on 27 bought advertising time in both broadcasts as part of the effort to pass online sports betting in California.
49ers opener includes three Yes on 27 ads
Those who watched the San Francisco 49ers on Northern California’s KTVU saw the same Yes on 27 ad in a trio of spots. The 30-second video aired during the Fox pre-game show, at halftime, and before the fourth quarter:
“Here’s why every sports fan should vote yes on Prop 27. Football season is here. But while your friends in New York, Chicago and half the country are allowed to bet on their favorite teams, it’s still illegal to bet here in California. Prop 27 changes the game. 27 legalizes online sports betting for California adults 21 and over, meaning you’ll finally be able to get in on the action legally. So remember to vote yes on Prop 27. It’s a win for sports fans.”
Several major Prop 27 backers, including DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM, ran nationwide ads during the game. However, there was only one other commercial with ties to California gambling that aired on the broadcast. An ad for Cache Creek, a prominent Northern California casino, was shown before the start of the third quarter.
Southern California game shows ad four times (sort of)
The same ad was shown on San Diego’s KFMB ahead of the AFC West showdown between the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders. However, it was cut short when CBS began bonus coverage of the Pittsburgh/Cincinnati game, which went to overtime.
Per PlayUSA’s Maria Healey, the commercial aired in its entirety three times. It was shown twice during halftime and once during the third quarter.
Much like the 49er broadcast up north, this one also featured ads from operators targeting national audiences. The game also featured one spot from a local Southern California casino. Jamul Casino, located in San Diego County, had an advertisement run during halftime.
Nothing on Prop 26…why?
Conspicuously absent from the commercial breaks were spots designed to promote Prop 26. The initiative that would legalize in-person sports betting at California tribal casinos and California horse racing venues is backed by most of the state’s tribes. The Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming has raised more than $120 million in efforts to pass Prop 26 and defeat Prop 27.
While the Yes on 26 coffers are well-lined, though, conventional media efforts have been minimal. Yes on 26 has posted just one press release to its website since mid-July. The campaign also has yet to produce a video ad specifically urging voters to pass Prop 26 on Election Day.
However, it appears the tribes are more focused on Prop 26’s ballot box counterpart. The No on 27 YouTube channel includes several ads speaking out against the initiative. Its two most recent spots have gotten plenty of play. One, “Here We Go Again,” has racked up more than 1.1 million views.
The campaigns for and against these initiatives are already the most expensive fight in the history of U.S. ballot initiatives. More than $422 million has already been spent for and against Prop 26 and Prop 27.
That number figures to get far larger ahead of Election Day. Chances are we’ll see many more ads in the weeks ahead.