Advertisers face tough decisions on buying NFL commercial time

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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.

4 responses to “Advertisers face tough decisions on buying NFL commercial time

  1. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I grew up in the years of 3 (then 4) networks and games broadcast over the air for free. After many years of vastly overpaying for satellite I cut the cord a few years ago – which is great in many ways.

    We’re in unusual, anxious, trying times. Why not broadcast the games as usual and stream them online for free *with the paid broadcast advertising*? Isn’t that giving advertisers more value for their money, and thus allaying much of this corporate anxiety?

    I know this gets complicated with local advertising, etc. But surely there’s a solution that can keep advertisers happy and also garner some good will among fans?

  2. The other way to look at it is that people are gonna be relieved to have watch sports and with the high probability of games without attending fans; that’s gonna be an even higher viewership. Products could reach out to a now wider audience and it will be ideal to make their pitch. Be creative and imaginative and the customers might reach out. I wonder if the NFL will increase the slot cost considering these factors.

  3. “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.”

    That is pure sales puffery, and the more the puffery, the greater the desperation in the salesperson. Advertisers are pretty uncertain on whether the games will be played as scheduled, and given the terrible economic climate, luxury goods, cars, pickup trucks, etc. will probably see a sizeable drop in demand. That projected economic environment makes the ad sales more challenging.

    For what it is worth, the US is starved for sports entertainment. If you have something that will sell during trying economic times, it makes sense to buy NFL ad time. But the number of advertisers and lower demand for advertising might mean that brands might sit on the sidelines, waiting for the ad prices to drop.

  4. As a season of uncertainty approaches, advertisers are being leery about the prospect of buying commercial time on NFL broadcasts.

    And if the add revenue goes down then you can bet your last dollar so do the bids for the new TV deal and just think only three months ago Florio was telling us all how the NFL would basically be printing as much money as they wanted for years to come with this new TV contract and legalized gambling, now ad revenue will decline and at the end of the season there wasn’t nearly the dollars being bet on games as they’d predicted, WOW how fast and drastically things can change!

    BTW they were counting on a lot of people switching from where ever they’re betting now to betting through the NFL were the NFL will get a cut and as I said from day 1 that ain’t happening! Why would I want to wager with the NFL were they’ll get a cut, my winnings will get reported and I’ll get taxed on them = NO THANKS.

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