Sky the likely big loser if Bradley bans betting ads

Speaking at the Advertising Association’s LEAP Summit new culture secretary Karen Bradley says the Government is still looking hard at banning gambling ads on TV before the so-called 9pm ‘watershed,’ when you can air controversial stuff as the kids are supposed to be in bed. Or, more likely, watching the telly on their mobiles.

Anyway it seems a real possibility and Bradley herself has said that her own kids can name just about every betting TV advertiser. It’s hard to argue that such ads don’t “legitimise” betting. Most feature mobile-glued lads having a good time. If you watch Sky or BT Sport they drive you nuts (below – it’s only thirty seconds). They dominate the ad breaks along with cars ads (these, mostly, aren’t very good either).

If such a ban does materialise it probably won’t affect the betting companies much or at all. When tobacco ads were banned the profits of the fag companies actually went up because they saved billions on marketing. Betting is just as much an addiction as smoking for many.

It would, however, affect creative and media agencies and, of course, the broadcasters. Sky is suddenly finding life harder as it has to shell out its share of the £5bn pouring into Premier League coffers, as presumably is big rival BT (although it has other things on its mind, like the £500m plus Italian accounting scandal). Has BT taken its eye off the ball as it concentrates on men kicking rounds ones?

Sky is currently in the process of accepting £11bn from Murdoch-owned Fox for the 61 per cent Fox doesn’t own. Some Sky investors think this is too little, a lot of people think the Murdochs are overpaying for a business model that looks out of date in the streaming era.

Advertising has never been that important for Sky, it has grown through subscriptions. Now, though, it does look more valuable and betting ads are the biggest part of that. The Murdochs will be lobbying powerfully as Ms Bradley weighs her options. Wonder if their Sun has offered a view on the issue yet?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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