SBD/March 28, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 17: Networks, Advertisers Start Making Alternative Plans

Since the NFL lockout began just over two weeks ago, some networks "have been preparing contingency plans to air alternative programming in case games are canceled this fall," and advertisers also are "forging new plans and considering buying commercial time on other marquee programming should the work stoppage continue into the football season," according to Lauren Schuker of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Some advertisers "already have bought commercials on Viacom Inc. television networks as a backup." SMGx Senior VP & Dir Sam Armando: "Football is so important to networks and buyers that they can't afford not to plan ahead." While advertisers "haven't yet changed their usual May schedule for buying NFL ads," execs said that the "uncertainty has heated up the advertising market for other programming that draws large audiences." Golf, college football and primetime dramas are "among the areas attracting extra interest." MTV Music & Entertainment Head of Sales Jeff Lucas: "We have talked to all our clients, and they're nervous." Schuker notes some cable channels are taking an "aggressive approach." Spike TV is "considering developing several alternatives in case games are canceled on rival broadcast and cable channels." Spike President Kevin Kay said that the net is "contemplating booking a live boxing match on a Sunday night in the fall to capitalize on a possible NFL work stoppage." Spike also is "considering pushing up the start dates of its regular television series, such as football comedy 'Blue Mountain State,' which would begin in September rather than October." MTV's Lucas said that a "number of companies have already committed to advertising agreements on shows across the Viacom networks whether or not the work stoppage continues" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/28).

ON A WING AND A PRAYER: In Minneapolis, Mike Hughlett reported Buffalo Wild Wings "has taken to Facebook with a petition to end the lockout that threatens to wipe out some if not all of the upcoming football season." Buffalo Wild Wings is "running TV ads during the NCAA basketball tournament directing viewers to the e-petition," an effort dubbed "Save Our Season." The company's Facebook page reads, "We're not taking sides. We just want a football season. So join the movement to help us insure there is one" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/27).
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