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Spending on NFL Game Ads Dropped 1.2% During Season

Advertising during NFL games during the 2017 regular season fell 1.2% to $2.42 billion, according to new figures released by research company Standard Media Index.

The totals include ads aired during games on NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN.

The NFL is TV’s biggest draw to viewers and advertisers. Ad revenue rose from $2.17 billion in 2014 to $2.45 billion in 2016.

But ratings have been falling the last two seasons and despite still being TV’s top-rated programming, ad revenue had begun to drop.

Related: Networks Experimenting With Spots During NFL Games

The issue is significant because live sports have been seen as the last area of strength for traditional linear TV at a time when more viewers are watching shows on demand or streaming programming.

“For the first time since we have been tracking the market, we saw a slight drop of in-game dollars,” said Standard Media Index CEO James Fennessy. "Despite a fairly significant fall in ratings, CPM’s were strong and demand continued to be high. This again demonstrates that the NFL remains the powerhouse of national TV ROI. Advertisers understand the exceptional return they get as a result of the large, engaged and guaranteed audiences enjoying a full screen experience in this unique environment.”

SMI said commercial loads were unchanged during NFL games this season.

The price per spot in NFL games rose $1.2% to $505,000 for a 30-second spot from $499,000 a year ago.

But the networks aired more make-good spots during games this year to cover ratings shortfalls. Makegoods accounted for 23% of the spots in games, up from 21% last year.

The biggest spender on NFL games were the automakers, followed by consumer electronics companies. This season auto spending was down 5.4% and consumer electronics spending was down 3%.

On the upswing were insurance, alcoholic beverages and quick serve restaurants.

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.