Fox Plans Thanksgiving Feast Of 6-Second Spots in NFL Game

Fox plans to air nine of its new short six-second commercials during the Thanksgiving Day broadcast of the Vikings-Lions game.

The short commercials will run individually in naturally occurring breaks in the game—the timing will be determined live during the broadcast--and will replace one of the longer breaks that normally appear. Those breaks tend to last about 2 minutes and 20 second.

The spots will also appear in a double-box format, with the second box staying with video from the stadium, which should help keep viewers tuned in.

Mark Evans, senior VP for ad sales at Fox Networks Group, says some of the ads have already been sold, others are still available.

Fox has been looking for ways to make advertising less intrusive and more engaging. Following YouTube's lead, it started airing six-second spots in August as a way to deliver brief but intense messages.

Because they usually run by themselves instead with several other messages and because they are airing in high-profile programming, Fox has been asking a premium price for the shorter ads. Fox declined to say how much it was asking for its Thanksgiving Day spots.

The NFL, with its ratings down, has also been looking for ways to make the broadcasts of its games move faster to keep fans from shifting to the Red Zone channel, watching other programs or turning off the TV. The league gave Fox the OK to test dropping six-second spots into lulls in the action.

Fox has run six second ads in its coverage of the World Series, so its producers and announcers are getting used to them popping up at unscheduled times. During Game 2 announcer followed six-second battery spot by saying “I feel little re-energized.”

During the Thanksgiving game, Fox will have its top production crew on hand to handle the scheduling of the spots. The NFL this season reformatted the commercials in its game. One change is eliminating having commercial breaks after both touchdowns and the extra points that follow scores. One place Fox might air six-second spots could be when teams are getting line up for kickoffs following the extra point.

In a perfect world, three of the spots will air in the first quarter, with two more in the second, third and fourth quarter,” Evans said. “But it’s never a perfect world.”

Evans noted that during particularly fast-moving World Series game, Fox wasn’t able to get its six second spots in during the early innings and had to air them later than it had planned. That turned out to be a good deal for advertisers, who got their spots in the late innings of a tight content, Evans said.

“Marketers are looking for ways to innovate and break the mold and give creative minds a different template,” Evans said. And they’re willing to pay for it. “The pricing that’s come along with It, we’re very pleased with.”

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.