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Volume 21 No. 39
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NFL pitches playoff sponsorship deal

The NFL has pitched a $10 million presenting sponsorship to the AFC and NFC championship games.
Photo by: AP IMAGES
Presenting sponsorship for the upcoming NFC and AFC championship games has been on the market since late last year, but so far there have been no takers, according to a variety of client and agency sources. It’s more likely to be sold for next season, as part of an overall playoff sponsorship.

A sell sheet for the offering, obtained by SportsBusiness Journal, lists the price as TBD, but sources said the asking price was $10 million. The package is being sold by the NFL, not its media rights holders. NFL sponsors, along with marketing and media agencies, first saw the offering last month.

The league primarily is looking to sell the package for next season, with potential for an entire playoff presenting sponsorship. However, the possibility to “get in early” this season is noted in the document.

“I get asked all the time about when we’ll sell uniform patches, or goal-post signage or whatever,” said Renie Anderson, NFL senior vice president, sponsorship and partnership management. “But for us, less is more. We think this could be an amazing asset for a single brand. And as we go to market, our goal is really [a sponsorship across] the entire playoffs next year.”

Other big NFL presenting sponsorship deals include Bud Light’s “Thursday Night Football” deal and Verizon’s new Pro Bowl deal.

As described in the document, the package would carry with it a requirement to purchase two 30-second ad units in each championship game; agency sources gave a range of $1.7 million to $2 million per spot. Other assets detailed include logo integration; in-game broadcast exposure and mentions; opening and closing graphics with audio/visual sponsor branding; two 10-second in-game vignettes per game; other in-game sponsor mentions, including commercial bumpers and score panes (at least two per quarter); the opportunity to develop custom features around the championship games on NFL-controlled media; and an unspecified additional buy from NFL Media. A sponsor also would be required to promote tune-in.

Presenting sponsorship for the two championships has never been successfully sold before, although several sources said a similar offer had been on the table as part of some overall NFL sponsorship packages in the past.

Last year’s conference championship games averaged 46.9 million viewers each, down from 49.7 million viewers in 2016, but up from 46.2 million viewers in 2015.

The NFL trying to sell presenting sponsorship for its conference championships follows a pattern across large properties of selling more of what has never been sold before. Last season MLB sold sponsorships for every round of its postseason except the opening Wild Card games; the NBA has uniform advertising for the first time this season, adding to a mix of on-court ad inventory that includes ads on basket stanchions, pads, court aprons and chairs; while various forms of virtual signage are in use across the NHL, along with what have become crowded dasherboards and on-ice signage.