For Michigan Political Ads, The Tigers Are The Big Game In Town : It's All Politics Why do advertisers love buying time for political ads during Detroit Tigers baseball games?
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For Michigan Political Ads, The Tigers Are The Big Game In Town

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For Michigan Political Ads, The Tigers Are The Big Game In Town

For Michigan Political Ads, The Tigers Are The Big Game In Town

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

We're in the final weekend of baseball's regular season, still pennant races and wildcard matches to be set. You watching? Well, political consultants are, especially the Detroit Tigers. Now, they're a great team but also one uniquely suited for those who buy TV time for political campaigns. NPR's Don Gonyea, who is, by the way, proudly made in Detroit himself, explains.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: As televised drama goes, the Detroit Tigers have been the big hit show in Michigan this summer.

(SOUNDBITE OF BASEBALL GAME)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #1: Victor Martinez, he made the catch.

GONYEA: That's audio from Fox Sports Detroit, the Tigers cable network.

(SOUNDBITE OF BASEBALL GAME)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #1: Drill toward left field. That'll get down and go to the wall.

GONYEA: All over the country, advertisers love to buy sports for the big audiences that are enthusiastic and engaged. And with a live telecast, you can't fast-forward through the ads.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV COMMERCIAL)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It's Chevy truck month, time when truck guys can depend on great offers.

GONYEA: On Tigers TV games, there are lots of ads for trucks and cars and local banks and personal injury lawyers and pizza. All of these advertisers like the big, broad audience that tunes into baseball, just like in a lot of other cities. But there are reasons why the Detroit Tigers hold a special place in the hearts of media buyers for political campaigns. For starters, you get Michigan where almost the entire state cheers for this one team. Additionally there's not a lot of bleed over into neighboring states, meaning you're not paying for a lot of viewers who aren't Michigan voters. It's not like the Red Sox, where loyalties are spread out all across New England. And it's not like say Pennsylvania, where Pirates fans hate the Phillies and vice versa. So you get a lot of ads like this one, a classic political attack.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV COMMERCIAL)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: ...Voted for trillions in new debt and to cut billions from seniors Medicare. Six years, no results.

GONYEA: Of course the fact that the Tigers have been quite good for nearly a decade makes for an especially loyal fan base, which includes the usual male sports fans, but also a very strong showing among women. Janet Katowitz is president of a media buying firm in Washington. She's represented many Democratic candidates in Michigan over the years. She says it's almost like a trip to an earlier era of TV viewing, before streaming and tablets and multitasking.

JANET KATOWITZ: It's a real throwback where there's, you know, one type of show, one program, where you can find everyone. And pretty consistently, you can find this audience and it really holds up.

GONYEA: Katowitz says it's like a hit TV show with 162 episodes plus playoffs.

KATOWITZ: It's a classic storytelling of, you know, hero versus villain and this is your hometown team.

GONYEA: Robert Kolt spent a career as a media consultant. Today, he teaches at Michigan State University. He says sports delivered the potential for something you get in few other places.

ROBERT KOLT: If it's a tight game and you go to the ninth-inning and you're a media buyer and you've placed your ad at the bottom of the ninth and it's really neck and neck - that is just jackpot.

(SOUNDBITE OF BASEBALL GAME)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #2: Three-three in the ninth. Base hit, Kingsley along third. Hill scores and the Tigers will walk off winners.

GONYEA: Of course, your ad might also run in a game that's a blowout and everyone's gone to bed. Or worse, the Tigers bullpen blows a lead and you get a really cranky audience. Still, even with the risk, this Tigers team is already seen as a champion by all those political ad buyers. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Detroit.

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