As the second-biggest competition for European football fans — after the World Cup — the European Championships represents a great opportunity for betting providers to reach their audience. Just under 31 million viewers watched the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy, with others tuning in online. While the bulk of this audience went to the ad-less BBC coverage, there were plenty of opportunities for betting companies to advertise their services on commercial channel ITV, both during the final game and the rest of the tournament.
For example, England’s semi-final victory over Denmark was shown on ITV in the UK, garnering a peak audience of 27.6 million for the broadcaster’s standard and catch-up channels. Even in the group stages, 17.7 million UK viewers were watching ITV as England beat the Czech Republic and Scotland was eliminated at the hands of Croatia.
High Euro 2020 Viewing Figures, But Fewer Ads
In today’s digital world, these are huge figures. With more options at their disposal, viewers are not restricted to watching games via traditional broadcasters and may instead choose to follow matches online and through other channels. However, despite these big numbers, significantly fewer betting ads were shown by broadcasters during this year’s Euros.
ITV and ITV4 showed a total of 85 betting ads during the Euro 2020 group stages, 47% fewer than during the same stage of the 2018 World Cup three years ago. Of course, Euro 2020 was a 24-team tournament, compared to the World Cup’s 32, with fewer games across fewer groups. Looking at the ad-per-game ratio, however, we can still see a significant decrease. On average, 3.7 gambling ads were displayed for each live game at the 2020 tournament, compared to 6.9 in 2018.
Restrictions Imposed by the BGC
This decrease is due to the actions of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) members in 2019. The BGC opted to introduce a “whistle-to-whistle” ban on gaming ads during certain live sports fixtures, including Euro 2020 betting ads. Basically, ads can be shown during the build-up to the game, following the game, and during other parts of the programming schedule. But they cannot be displayed from five minutes before kick-off until five minutes after the match ends, including any extra time and penalties.
A report on this ban cited a significant reduction in sports betting ads being viewed by children.
In the UK, this ban is likely to remain in force over the foreseeable future, extending to major sporting events such as future European Championships and the World Cup, which is to be held in 2022. Betting providers will lose out on a degree of exposure to audiences and may have to augment their campaigns with ads placed via other channels, such as online.
Brands can be reassured by the fact that the ban represents a level playing field — no providers will be able to leverage an advantage over their competitors. With this in mind, while the restrictions pose a headache for gaming firms, they should not result in any loss of market share.