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Volume 21 No. 30
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NFL OK with new football league airing ad during Super Bowl

Ever since CBS announced that it will air the inaugural game of Charlie Ebersol’s Alliance of American Football six days after the “Tiffany Network” televises Super Bowl LIII next Feb. 3, we’ve had a single burning query: Will the NFL permit CBS to promote its new football league within Super Bowl programming, annually the top-rated show on television?

Surprisingly — at least to us — it turns out the answer is yes.

“It shouldn’t surprise you that we informed the NFL about we were doing this and they are pretty agnostic,” CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said during a recent Q&A in Stamford, Conn., presented by the Fairfield County Sports Commission. “They don’t look at it as a threat to what they are doing. They look at it more as a developmental league.”

CBS’s Sean McManus said the NFL sees the venture as a developmental league, not a competitor.
Photo: getty images

Several senior industry sources said that the AAF will actually air a spot within the Super Bowl itself — breaking a long-standing prohibition on promoting other sports properties on Super Bowl air. McManus did not specifically confirm that but said Super Bowl programming on CBS will be used to promote the AAF.

“We were not looking for a spring football league,” he said, “[but] the more we heard about what Charlie’s vision was, the more we thought, ‘This is worth taking a flyer on.’”

With the TV upfront sales period underway, McManus said he expects CBS to generate more than $350 million in revenue from the Super Bowl, including pregame, postgame and the game itself.

“Indications are we’ll get more than $5 million per [30-second] spot … and we’ll generate more [revenue] than NBC did last year and we’ll exceed our $350 million from three years ago,” McManus said. “If you want to reach a certain amount of people, you pay that $4 million. If you’re an advertising agency buying for Apple or Gillette or some big company — kind of a game of chicken — you don’t want to get closed out.”

NEW COLLEGE TRY: The College Football Playoff is looking more and more like the Super Bowl. Now, with the upcoming CFP championship game at Levi’s Stadium next January, San Francisco 49ers marketers are selling host committee sponsorships just like the Big Game.

Six CFP Host Committee Funding Partnerships are on the market, with a mid-six-figure-per-package tag apiece, designed to help fund various regional activities behind the CFP. Brent Schoeb, 49ers vice president of corporate partnerships, said they are being careful not to infringe on categories held or pursued by rights holder ESPN or the CFP.

In search of branding, data storage provider Datrium, from nearby Sunnyvale, Calif., is the first to sign on. The host committee assets include presenting sponsorship of the volunteer program, tickets and hospitality, a kickoff luncheon and some community relations initiatives.

“The Niners are our bread and butter, obviously,” Schoeb said, “but we’ve got some top-level college football and even some high school games here people need to know more about.”

The 49ers are also selling sponsorships surrounding the Pac-12 Football Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium next November, as well as assets including title sponsorship to the former Foster Farms Bowl.

Now approaching their fifth NFL season at Levi’s Stadium, Schoeb said the 49ers have achieved record sponsorship revenue each year at the facility and are on pace this year to have the second-biggest contractually obligated income year in franchise history — already well into eight figures.

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com.