As a season of uncertainty approaches, advertisers are being leery about the prospect of buying commercial time on NFL broadcasts. Anthony Crupi of Sports Business Journal takes a close look at the situation, which is requiring decisions to be made despite so many variables that won’t be resolved any time soon.
“We are counseling our ad partners that they’re going to want to come to us earlier rather than try to grab whatever may be left in September,” an unnamed advertising executive told Crupi. “I don’t want to mince words here — if you don’t buy our games now, you’re going to face a big premium in scatter.”
Buying ads in scatter includes giving up any ratings guarantees that would result in “make-good” advertising if the game for which the ads were purchased doesn’t deliver the expected eyeballs. Ads bought now come with the guarantee.
Early purchases, as explained by Crupi, also include a cancellation option, giving the advertiser the ability to pull the plug on up to 50 percent of advance commitments at the outset of a new quarter.
Given that the production of scripted series has been delayed since March, due to the pandemic, there may not be many options for advertising when September rolls around. NFL football, with new unscripted content every week in multiple windows, becomes a great platform for getting an advertiser’s message to the masses.
Through it all, the key word appears to be flexibility.
“As valuable a property as the NFL is, this isn’t the time to hold anyone’s feet to the fire,” an unnamed network executive told Crupi. “We’re going to get through this thing, and we want you to be with us when we’re on the other side.”
That’s the right approach. Although networks don’t want to be left holding the bag in a down year, the advertising relationships will extend well into the future. The challenge becomes striking the right balance and ensuring that both sides believe they’re being treated fairly in the short term, which lays the foundation for an even better partnership over the long haul.