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Volume 24 No. 219

Marketing and Sponsorship

Despite ratings being down for NFL game broadcasts through Week 6, advertisers "have been steadfast in their interest," according to Anthony Crupi of AD AGE. Through Week 6, in-game commercial inventory in the NFL broadcast windows has "generated an estimated $1.24 billion in revenue," up 14% from the equivalent period last year. Another positive for the networks is that a "ratings dip coupled with flat or increased demand leads to an increase in the price of buying time in any TV program" (ADAGE.com, 10/17).

PICK SIX: Viewership of NFL games through Week 6 remains down around 7% to date (across all Thursday, Sunday and Monday games). Only ESPN is seeing a gain to date, as the net's "MNF" package is averaging 11.16 million viewers, up 6%. CBS is seeing the sharpest drop to date, as its Sunday game average of 15.06 million viewers is down 14%. Fox' games on Sunday are averaging 17.94 million viewers, down 7%. That drop is only 2% if the hurricane-impacted Week 1 is removed. NBC's "SNF" continues to lead all of primetime TV, but its average of 19.08 million viewers is down 4% to date. A rearranged "TNF" schedule is a primary reason for the sharp drop for CBS and NFL Network. CBS has had one less game this season to date, with that telecast on NFL Network. The "TNF" package is averaging 12.01 million viewers to date, down 11% through Week 6 last season (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

NFL GAME VIEWERSHIP THROUGH WEEK 6
NETWORK
'17 (000)
'16 (000)
1-YEAR +/-
'15 (000)
2-YEAR +/-
NBC
19,075
19,916
-4%
24,144
-21%
Fox
17,936
19,253
-7%
19,404
-8%
CBS
15,064
17,487
-14%
18,893
-20%
CBS/NFL Net
12,011
13,464
-11%
17,642
-32%
ESPN
11,159
10,559
6%
13,450
-17%
NOTES: NBC figures include NFL Kickoff and "SNF." The CBS/NFL Net figures are for "TNF" only.

Maple Leafs C Auston Matthews has a chance to be a "once-in-a-generation star," and though he has the NHL's fourth-best-selling jersey, the next "great face of American hockey remains hidden above the border," according to Emily Kaplan of ESPN THE MAGAZINE. Matthews was the Maple Leafs' lone All-Star last season, but his image "never appeared on a billboard inside the city." That is "very much by the Leafs' design." Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello believes the "face of the franchise is, and always will be, a royal blue image of a leaf." The team's "restrained marketing approach to its transcendent talent is all the more remarkable given how much it values Matthews' performance." Matthews said, "In America, if I'm not at an ice rink, nobody knows who I am." Kaplan notes if the NHL wants a "crossover celebrity, the type of athlete with dazzling skills who reaches new demographics, it should almost thank central casting for sending along Matthews." Leafs D Morgan Rielly said, "People always stop him and ask for pictures. He always stops, but he's reserved every time. It doesn't seem natural for him. He hasn't gotten used to it; he really doesn't like the attention that much." Matthews has "appeared in exactly one commercial ... for a hockey stick." He is sponsored by Bauer, and "that's about it." Kaplan: "Matthews will be a star, but the question is whether he'll fit the NHL's mold or develop into something of his own making" (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 10/30 issue).

GOING NEXT LEVEL: THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell wrote Matthews has the "potential to be the first actual superstar" the Leafs have ever had. Campbell: "To me, superstardom is reserved only for those very special franchise players and there usually aren’t any more than four to six playing in the league at any time." If Matthews can "stay healthy and productive, he could take this franchise to places it has never been before" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 10/16).