NFL Game Ad Revenue Up 14% This Season: MediaRadar

Tom Brady of Tampa Bay vs. New England on Oct. 3, 2021
The return of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady to New England drew 26.7 million viewers to NBC on Oct. 3. (Image credit: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

The National Football League is scoring big numbers for its TV partners this season, with ad revenue up 14% so far, according to an analysis by MediaRadar.

MediaRadar said preseason games generated $41.9 million in TV ad revenue. A year ago, preseason games were all canceled due to the pandemic.

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So far regular season games on six networks — ABC, CBS, ESPN, Fox, NBC and NFL Network — have generated $1.1 billion, up 10% from $1 billion a year ago.

With the preseason revenue added in, the networks are up 14% from a year ago.

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“Broadcasters are seeing a meaningful increase in revenue compared to last year,” said Todd Krizelman, CEO and cofounder, MediaRadar. “As the months continue, it’s likely that we’ll see even more year-over-year growth.” 

MediaRadar said the 28 nationally televised regular season games generated an average of $39.3 million. 

The top advertisers on NFL games so far this season are Geico, Progressive, AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile.

Before the season started network sales executives were upbeat about how NFL sales and sports sales in general were doing. 

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Fox, which has the Super Bowl that will be played in 2023 — after next season — had already begun selling spots in that game.

Through week six of the season, the NFL says its games are averaging 16.6 million TV and digital viewers per game, up 11% from 2020. NFL games are the top 33 games on TV since the start of the season.

The biggest game of the season to date occurred when Tom Brady returned to New England with the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers to play the Patriots. That Week 4 game, airing on NBC, drew 26.7 million viewers.

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.