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Volume 22 No. 2
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ESPN: Sponsor interest strong as CFP title game heads to Silicon Valley

In January, the College Football Playoff championship will move to Silicon Valley, an area that does not have the same fervor for the sport as last year’s market, Atlanta, which is in the middle of SEC country.

 

Rob Temple, ESPN’s senior vice president of sports marketing, said his network’s biggest sponsors are reacting well to the game’s Santa Clara location.

 

“It is different,” Temple said during an industry conference last week. “A lot of our partners see the game going to the West Coast as an advantage for them. A lot of them are East Coast-based and Southeast-based and they want to be relevant in that market, so it’s opened up some new opportunities for them.”

 

Now in its fifth year, the CFP championship game has become a reliable ratings juggernaut for ESPN. The title games featuring Ohio State vs. Oregon in 2015 and Alabama vs. Georgia in 2018 are ranked as the top two telecasts in cable television history. Overall, the CFP championship or semifinal games hold six of the top-10 slots.

 

ESPN points to how Marvel leveraged Kendrick Lamar’s performance at last year’s halftime show to build interest in the “Black Panther” movie.
Photo: Getty Images

Temple said the game positions are filled with advertisers that have seasonlong commitments.

 

“It’s nuanced — most of our CFP partners are entirely invested in college football,” Temple said. “They don’t just buy the national championship game in that location. They’re buying on a multiyear basis the whole breadth of the season.”

 

Temple brought up last year’s halftime concert with Kendrick Lamar as an example of how important the championship game is to advertisers.

 

“Last year, we used the first Kendrick Lamar performance to perform a song that was in ‘Black Panther,’ and we had an original trailer that came right after that song that led to the most successful 24 hours of advanced ticket sales for any Marvel film,” Temple said. “That worked really well for Disney and Marvel and Kendrick Lamar. He launched a pair of shoes off of that performance.”

John Ourand can be reached at jourand@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ourand_SBJ.