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Fox Scores World Series Gains Though Some Ad Prices Dipped

Just as the 2019 World Series seesawed between the Houston Astros and the champion Washington Nationals, the prices Fox was able to get for commercials fluctuated from game to game to game, according to data from SQAD MediaCosts: National.

With the series going the full seven games, Fox saw an increase in revenue from 2018, when the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games, despite an 11% decrease in total viewership, according to Dan Klar, VP, product director of SQAD’s MediaCosts: National. But for some games, the price per 30-second spot was down from a year ago.

Generally speaking with a seven-game playoff series, networks sell the first five games to advertisers in advance. The other games, which are less likely to be played, are sold separately--sometimes up until just before the ump yells “Play ball.”

Sports continues to be among the most in-demand programs on linear networks. And playoff games are often the highest rates shows in a given quarter, Klar notes. Those viewers are engaged and “you’re getting a crap-ton of exposure. So its good for the advertiser and its good from the vendor from the perspective of you weren’t going to get this kind of viewership on Masterchef or whatever else they would have had on.”

SQAD MediaCosts’ data show that for the first two games of the 2019 World Series, the average price of a 30-second spot were up from 2018, with advertisers paying as much as $370,000 per unit.

For game two, the average cost was up 10% to $360,000 from $323,777 the prior year.

But for the next three games, the average price for a commercial was down. Game three prices were 7% lower than the previous year, they slipped 2.2% for game four and dipped 0.6% in game five.

As it became clear that game’s six and seven were more likely to be played, advertisers bought spots. The prices were 2% to 3% lower than for the first five games of the series,

But the game six and seven prices were up from 2017 when the series last went seven games. Average 30-second spots cost 25% more for game six than they had in 2017 and spots in the deciding game seven were up 15.7%.

Even though prices were lower than in the first five games of the series, Games six and seven were still very good business for Fox, said Klar.

”Game six and seven, while not as high as the beginning of the series, is still found money for the most part,” said Klar. Late World Series games “drive some really good viewership to the network. Are they going to have a program on those two nights that’s going to be a $300,000 average unit cost? Probably not.”