$3.72B in Advertising Riding on NFL Playing Season

With the NFL about to hold its draft virtually because restrictions have been placed on events with large audiences in order to limit the spread of the Coronavirus, new data from Standard Media Index shows how important pro football is to the TV networks that hope to broadcast games in the fall.

During the 17-week regular season ratings rose 5% and in-game ads last season generated $2.7 billion in ad revenue, up 10.6% The average cost for an in-game commercial rose 7.7% to $424,000.

Excluding the Super Bowl, the 10 NFL post-season games generated $594 million in ad revenue up 6.8%. Commercial cost an average of nearly $1 million, up 10.7%. This season, the NFL plans add two more playoff games--one of which will be shown on NBC, Telemundo and Peacock, the other on CBS and Nickelodeon.

Super Bowl LIV on Fox by itself generated $426 million in in-game revenue, up a whopping 26.9% from the prior game on CBS. The average 30-second commercial cost just under $5 million, up from the $4.4 million average price CBS got. Fox’s Super Bowl had 86 ad units, up from 76 units the prior year.

Altogether, in-game advertising on NFL regular season and post-season games adds up toe $3.72 billion.

“As audience fragmentation continues, it’s remarkable the NFL can grow audience. As a result, we are seeing marketers continuing to increase their ad dollar commitment to the league,” said James Fennessy, CEO of SMI.

The SMI report provided many details.

Fox televised the most regular season games, airing 38 on Thursday nights and Sundays. Those games generated $1.1 billion, up 12%. Commercial prices on Fox were up 10%.

Prices for commercials on NBC’s Sunday Night Football were up 7% and the network generated $40 million on average for each of the 19 games it broadcast.

CBS broadcast 27 regular season games, mostly on Sunday afternoons. Those games generated a total $546 million, up 9%. Commercial prices were up 5%.

Monday Night Football on ESPN generated $228 million in ad revenue up 11%.

The NFL Network’s ad revenue fell 7% to $51 million over the seven games it televised.

The most expensive regular-season games aired on Thanksgiving, with spots across the three networks that showed games averaging $900,000.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.