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Volume 26 No. 5
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Super Bowl Swap: NBC Trades '21 Big Game For CBS' '22

NBC, CBS and Fox typically rotate the annual Super Bowl broadcast as part of their rights deals with the NFL
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The NFL's agreement to switch Super Bowl networks in '21 and '22, trading NBC and CBS' years, suggests the networks and the league "may be willing to change their traditional ways of doing business and arrange the Super Bowl structure in ways that help each network maximize its own programming lineup," according to Brian Steinberg of VARIETY. NBC, CBS and Fox "typically rotate the annual Super Bowl broadcast as part of their rights deals with the NFL." However, CBS and NBC will "switch up the rotation" for the '21 and '22 Super Bowls in a move that "lets both networks pair the gridiron classic with other big sports events in their portfolios." NBC will now "align the Super Bowl" with its broadcast of the '22 Beijing Games, while CBS gets a Super Bowl that "won't have to compete with the NBC sports extravaganza." The switch also "gives CBS a chance to have both a Super Bowl broadcast and top-ranked college basketball in the same year," as CBS will air the NCAA Final Four in '21. Linking Super Bowl broadcasts to "other parts of a network's lineup is becoming more important," as networks "often try to use the Super Bowl to get advertisers to buy larger packages of inventory" (VARIETY.com, 3/13). In N.Y., Andrew Marchand, who first broke the story, cited sources as saying that the swap has "no compensation because it benefits both networks" (N.Y. POST, 3/14).

CASHING IN: AD AGE's Anthony Crupi noted CBS' broadcast slate in '21 "now features a primetime AFC Championship, the Super Bowl and the spring hoops bounty that is the Final Four/NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game." By aligning those three events, CBS can expect more than $1B in "sports ad sales revenue in a 10-week window." Crupi: "Toss in the Grammy Awards and the Masters and CBS is looking forward to a blockbuster start to 2021, a year that will be wedged between two huge political spending cycles" (ADAGE.com, 3/13). ADWEEK's Jason Lynch noted the move allows NBCUniversal to "broadcast the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics in the same month," which last year led to the company earning $1.4B in ad revenue in just 22 days (ADWEEK.com, 3/13).

FINDING OLYMPICS A HOME: AD AGE's Crupi noted NBC has "plenty of options" for its primetime Olympics coverage on Feb. 6, 2022, which will see Super Bowl LVI preempt the third night of the proceedings from Beijing. That will mark the first time the IOC has "carved out the schedule without factoring in the timing of the Super Bowl." NBC is likely to "shuttle its coverage of the impacted events to one of its cable channels," including NBCSN, MSNBC and USA Network. The third night of NBC's '18 Pyeongchang Games coverage was the net's "biggest draw" with a 14.2 rating across its platforms (ADAGE.com, 3/13).