NFL Regular Season Ad Revenue up 5%: SMI

Patrick Mahomes
TV networks have made lots of advertising money on NFL games leading up to the Super Bowl (Image credit: NFL)

Regular season advertising revenue was up 5% to $2.68 billion, according to Standard Media Index, which tracks ad spending. The gain came despite a recession and a pandemic that forced some games to be delayed and rescheduled.

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The strong gains should bolster the NFL’s leverage as it negotiates new television rights deals.

SMI has not yet tabulated playoff advertising revenue.

The gains were not uniform among the networks that broadcast pro football. 

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CBS, which will air the Super Bowl and has sold out its ad inventory at prices that exceeded $5.5 million per 30-second spot, generated 15.2% more revenue with its Sunday afternoon games, with $^09 million coming in.

Standard Media Index NFL Ad Spending

(Image credit: Standard Media Index)

Fox, which had both Sunday afternoon games and Thursday Night Football, showed an 8.8% increase in ad revenue to $1.1 billion.

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NBC, which airs Sunday Night Football, was down 9.9% to 660 million and ESPN, which has the Monday Night Football franchise was down 0.4% to $227 million.

The NFL Network was up 18.2% to $61 million, according to SMI.

ABC generated $22.8 million. It didn’t air any NFL games last year.

Advertisers who bought their NFL commercials in last year’s delayed upfront market, paid an average of $435,065 per 30-second spot. That compared to $429,095 a year ago.

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Advertisers who waited to buy later in the scatter market paid $444,065 for regular season NFL spots, a 1.9% premium over upfront. Last year, prices for NFL commercials dropped 1.5% in the scatter market, according to SMI.

NBC got the highest prices for its NFL commercials, with an average price of $634,245 in the upfront. The price barley changed in scatter.

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ESPN and sister network ABC, CBS and The NFL Network got higher prices for their spots in scatter. Fox saw prices edge down by 1.6%, per SMI.

Last season’s playoffs generated more than $150 million in revenue in the Wild Card round, more than $200 million for the division round and almost $250 million for the conference championships. Super Bowl LIV in-game commercials brought in $425.6 million, according to SMI.

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.