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Horizon Media Study Finds That People Support a Measured Response to Russian Doping Scandal, and Event Advertisers Need Not Worry

December 18, 2019 GMT

NEW YORK, Dec. 18, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Horizon Media, the world’s largest independent media agency, today announced findings of its ongoing Finger On The Pulse poll. Each week, Horizon Media tracks and publishes how news and cultural events can shape or shift people’s thinking and behavior.

This week the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned Russia from participating in world-wide sporting events for the next four years due to a doping scandal. This means that Russia cannot use their flag, name, or national anthem at global events – however, athletes who can prove they have not been doping can compete under a neutral flag. Given this news, Horizon Media wanted to understand people’s attitudes and beliefs regarding the ban itself, whether there was a difference among people who are bigger fans of world-wide sporting events, and how the news could impact people’s viewing behavior.

Overall, exactly half of all people were aware of the news of the ban (50% aware; 50% unaware), with this increasing to 71% awareness among people who characterized themselves as avid fans of world-wide sporting events.

Horizon Media has found that people support the Russian sports ban but prefer a reasoned approach to punishment rather than a severe one. While people consider the ban to be appropriate at both the national and individual levels, they also recognize being overly punitive is unfair and that, while Russia may be at fault now, few among the global athletic community are above examination. Though people see the Russian authorities to be the root problem there is still the sense that individual athletes have the responsibility to be clean no matter what pressures are placed upon them. In terms of viewership, overall the ban has little impact on intent to watch either the 2020 Olympics or 2022 World Cup – even among avid fans of these types of events, increased intent to watch is significantly outweighed by those stating their behavior won’t change.

Specifically, 79% (both overall and avid fans alike) agreed that this is institutionalized cheating by the Russian sports and/or government authorities and there should be repercussions. Additionally, there is a recognition that this is not the first time – with 71% disagreeing (66% among avid fans) that Russia has already been punished enough by being banned since 2015 and 73% (70% avid fans) disagreeing that four years is too long. Furthermore, while Russia may be in the news now, 79% believe (75% avid fans) that Russia isn’t the only country doping and that all countries, including the US, should be investigated.

The concept of fairness is also clear to see – when asked if Russian athletes should be banned permanently, even if proven clean, 75% disagreed with this overly punitive measure (dropped to 66% disagreement among avid fans). While the authorities are viewed as the root problem, people are not willing to let individual athletes off the hook – with 69% disagreeing with the statement that it’s not fair to punish individual athletes as they were probably forced to dope by the authorities.

With these strong yet balanced opinions, it does not appear the ban will materially affect future viewership. Overall, 86% of people said their viewership would stay the same for the 2020 Olympics and 87% stated the same for the 2022 World Cup, which means advertisers associated with these events need not worry that less eyeballs will be on them.

About Horizon Media Horizon Media, Inc. is the largest independent media agency in the world. The company was founded in 1989, is headquartered in New York, and has offices in Los Angeles and Toronto. With estimated billings of $8.7 billion and over 2,300 employees, Horizon is the third largest U.S. media agency according to COMvergence data.

Recognized as one of the world’s ten most innovative marketing and advertising companies by Fast Company, Horizon Media has been named Media Agency of the Year by MediaPost, Adweek and AdAge and is known for its highly personal approach to client service. Renowned for its culture, Horizon is also consistently named to all the prestigious annual Best Places to Work lists published by Fortune, Forbes, AdAge, Crain’s New York Business and Los Angeles Business Journal; including “Best Workplaces for Diversity,” “Best Workplaces for Women,” and “Best Workplaces for Millennials” honors.

Earning the industry’s highest honor, Bill Koenigsberg, President, CEO and Founder of Horizon Media, was inducted into the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Hall of Fame in 2019.

For further information please contactHorizon Media Stephen Hall(212) 220-1744 shall@horizonmedia.com