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Volume 25 No. 48
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NFL Working To Minimize Billboard Ads During Game Broadcasts

The use of “billboard” TV ads has become commonplace during NFL broadcasts, but the league is now "encouraging the networks to take such stuff away," according to Brian Steinberg of VARIETY. Billboard ads usually happen "during a quick break between plays" as the TV audience "sees an on-screen graphic touting beer, a razor blade or a new movie, while the announcer tells them the broadcast is 'brought to you by…'" Fox Exec VP/Sports Sales Neil Mulcahy said that the net has already "banished the billboards" from its "TNF" broadcasts, but is "keeping them in Sunday-afternoon games." ESPN Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Wendell Scott said that the net is "testing several ideas to take some commercial interruptions out" of "MNF." That includes a "'commercial free' halftime show that is still commercial in nature, because it’ s sponsored by Hyundai." But the NFL "can’t sack billboards entirely." CBS has "continued to run them ... without apologies." CBS Senior VP/NFL Sales Anthony Taranto said, “We have that option to trade them out for a different kind of in-game commercials, and if we see something we like, we may utilize it." But he said CBS will "continue to give people billboards" because they are a "solid value, and advertisers like them." Many of these ads are "handed out to big-spending sponsors at very little cost" and sometimes "they’re even free." The ads "often serve as a sort of cherry on top for advertisers buying large packages of commercial inventory." NFL VP/Media Strategy & Business Development Amanda Herald said billboards are "not necessarily going to be eliminated entirely" and the league is "not seeking to mandate that" (VARIETY.com, 11/8).