SBD/Issue 236/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Media Sales For NFL Games Outpacing General Upfront Spend

Beer Among Categories Selling Well
NFL TV partners “are commanding [6-7%] across-the-board increases in advertising rates during NFL games this fall, despite an overall market that is generally flat,” according to John Ourand in this week’s SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. ESPN’s “MNF” is “virtually sold out,” while Fox and NBC said that 85% of their ad inventory has been sold. CBS indicated that 80% of its inventory was sold. An informal survey of media buyers found that NBC “is commanding an average of about $315,000 for 30-second spots.” Fox and CBS “are bringing in an average of about $275,000 for 30-second spots on national games, and up to $125,000 for regional games.” ESPN is getting “about $200,000 for its 30-second spots.” Optimedia Exec VP & Dir of National Electronic Media Larry Novenstern: “This is a big win for the networks when you look at what happened during the [flat] prime-time upfront.”

ESPN: ESPN said that “beer and auto sales are strong,” and the net has also signed some clients “new to the NFL, such as Men’s Wearhouse.” Toyota and Lexus will the sponsor the “MNF” halftime show, Miller Lite will sponsor “NFL Primetime,” which is now on Mondays at 6:00pm ET, and UPS will sponsor “NFL Countdown.” General Motors has product placement during ESPN’s “MNF” intro (SBJ, 9/4 issue). Wal-Mart also signed an integrated multiplatform sponsorship of ESPN's “MNF” telecasts for the ’06-07 (THE DAILY).

NBC: Ourand notes “heavy buyers on NBC include the expected categories such as telecom (Sprint and Verizon) and beer (Anheuser-Busch, Coors and Miller).” NBC has signed Chevrolet as presenting sponsor of its pregame show. NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Senior VP/Sales Peter Lazarus said that ad buyers are “supporting NBC’s flexible schedule in a big way, with a ‘higher sellout level at the back end of the schedule than we anticipated.’” Carat USA’s Mike Law: “NBC’s in a nice position with the flexible schedule. If they have held back inventory during those games, that will help them at the end of the year” (SBJ, 9/4 issue). Lazarus: “I think the majority of our clientele either came from [ABC], or even more so from CBS or Fox” (TV WEEK, 9/4).

SUNDAY VS. MONDAY: TV WEEK’s Jon Lafayette notes NBC is anticipating an 11.0 Nielsen rating for “Sunday Night Football,” and Starcom Senior VP Sam Sussman “expects NBC to outperform” the 10.8 Nielsen rating that ABC averaged for “MNF” last year. Sussman called Sunday night “one of the most competitive nights in all of prime-time television,” adding, “The question will be who owns the remote control in the house when it comes to prime-time television after watching a day full of football. We have some healthy debate about what that number is going to be in terms of a rating.” Sussman said NBC has a “tougher job to do [than ESPN, CBS or Fox] because they don’t have any incumbencies out there” (TV WEEK, 9/4 issue).

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