Something ugly happened during the first week of the NFL preseason, something even uglier than charging fans full price to buy tickets to glorified scrimmages.
The ugliest part of Week One of the preseason was the use on some broadcasts of intrusive ads that superimposed the names and logos of businesses on the field, using the same technology that broadcasters have long used to display the first down line. The results were hideous, leading Keith Olbermann to open his show with a skit in which he pretended to be arriving from the future to warn football fans about how annoying advertising could be.
“Once this was unleashed upon football television, there was no going back,” Olbermann said.
But fortunately, there is some going back. A spokeswoman for Toyota told ABC News that after the negative fan backlash, the company will no longer sponsor a “Toyota Red Zone” with a glaring ad covering the field from the goal line to the 20-yard line while the ball is in play.
“We’re football fans too. We’ve heard fan feedback and it’s not our intention to distract from the joy of the game,” Toyota said in its statement.
The NFL has also confirmed that such ads would not be permitted under the NFL’s contracts with its regular-season TV partners. (Individual teams handle their own TV deals for the preseason, and there are fewer restrictions on advertising.) So we may not see those hideous advertisements on the field anymore. That’s a victory for the fans who just want to enjoy a game, without ads that make their eyeballs bleed.