NEW YORK: Commercials are more effective than in-game graphics and on-air mentions for brands seeking to reach fans watching sports on TV, according to a new study.

The Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg and ThePostGame, the sports and lifestyle publisher, polled 1,005 people aged 15–74-years-old.

And fully 64% of sports fans agreed spots shown during breaks are the best way for brands to promote their products "in and around" sports content on TV.

This figure compared with the score of 20% registered by in-game graphics and 14% for on-air mentions of a product or service.

"Sports continues to gain importance among all content – in some cases, it is the only must-see live content left," Jeffrey Cole, Founder/Director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg, said.

Participants under the age of 18 years old were most likely to suggest that TV commercials "enhance the sports viewing experience", with 21% supporting this view.

The analysis also noted, however, that "larger percentages across all ages believe that advertising around sports programming detracts" from the experience.

Despite this, over 90% of fans were prepared to pay to access sports programming. A 59% majority wanted this material included in their basic pay-TV package, and a further 28% would like it as an option.

In discussing the impact of digital, sports fans would meet a higher charge for streaming than for similar channels via cable and satellite providers, the study stated.

More broadly, members of the 25–34-year-old cohort were willing to "pay the most for sports programming" overall, the research revealed.

One of the "more surprising findings", it continued, was that women are open to paying a higher amount for sports programming than men. For each discipline except baseball, the female audience would pay up to 50% extra.

Data sourced from Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg; additional content by Warc staff