Young Children Exposed To Alcohol Advertising In Sports

Australian sports broadcasters have been under a lot of pressure lately due to a governmental review of the usage of gambling advertisements in sports, but now they are facing another important advertising issue – alcohol advertising. Research is starting to show just how many alcohol ads children are exposed to through family sports, and why it may be a good idea to review these types of advertisements as well.


The Drug and Alcohol Review released some statistics showing that there were 3,544 various alcohol advertisements that were played in free to air sports such as the AFL, NRL, and Cricket. This accounted for about 64 percent of all alcohol related advertisements in sports. Out of these groups, the AFL had the most alcohol adverts coming in with 1,942, with Cricket coming in second at 941, and the NRL coming in third with 661. This means that children received the highest amount of alcohol exposure when viewing AFL sports. Since these categories are free to air, they are often viewed by families with small children that join in to watch.


PLOS ONE had released their own report back in August that 87 percent of all advertisements played on Australian free to air television networks were related to alcohol. This only pertained strictly to day time sports, during hours in which children are most commonly expected to be watching sports with their families. Looking back at the amount of young children and adolescences that watched sports in 2012, over 27 million young people were exposed to these types of advertisements. An estimated total amount of alcohol advertising shows that combined with sports and all other forms of marketing, 51 million children and adolescence are exposed to alcohol advertisements a year.


It should be noted that in the past few years Australian sports have grown significantly. While there is very little research that holds recent data, you can expect that more children are being exposed today than they were just a few years ago. Also, the data reported doesn't quite represent all of the alcohol advertising children are exposed to because it specifically targets commercials. This does not include many other forms of advertising done in sports.


“The study considerably underestimates children's true exposure to alcohol advertising when watching sport, because the data we report here do not include alcohol advertising on players uniforms, stadium signage, or on the playing surface, and was restricted to live sports,” study lead Associate Professor Kerry O'Brien stated when talking about the research data.


What's particularly peculiar about these types of advertisements is that they are banned in every other genre of television programming that children are exposed to because they have been found to be a direct influence, and can be harmful to children.


“What was striking was the extent of children's exposure because of the clause allowing alcohol advertising in daytime sport. It's banned in every other TV genre because it's known to be harmful to children, so why is sport exempt? It just doesn't make sense,” Dr Sherilene Carr pointed out.