Super Bowl Ad Preview: Verizon Tops Wireless Brands for NFL Ad Spend Leading Up to the Big Game

B&C has partnered with TV advertising attention analytics company and its Super Bowl Ad Center to give you in-depth context and analysis during the run-up to game day. Monday, we took a look at the automotive brands that spent the most on TV advertising during NFL games leading up to the Super Bowl. Tuesday, we’re focusing on wireless providers, which as a category had a year-over-year TV ad spending increase during NFL games/programming of just over 27%.

Of the nine wireless providers that ran commercials during the 2016-17 NFL season, Verizon was dominant in terms of spend, accounting for an estimated $185.4 million, or 54.8%, of the wireless industry’s entire NFL TV ad outlay. They were also the most-seen wireless brand during NFL programming, accounting for nearly 3.5 billion of the industry’s 5.9 billion TV ad impressions.

T-Mobile had the second-highest NFL ad exposure in the wireless industry, with 847 million TV ad impressions. AT&T was next with 612.5 million, followed by Sprint (535 million) and Straight Talk Wireless (250.5 million). The second through fifth positions represented a shift vs. the 2015 season, with Sprint and AT&T at, respectively, No. 2 and No. 3 last year, followed by T-Mobile and Cricket Wireless (owned by AT&T) at No. 4 and No. 5. AT&T’s divergence of ad spend toward DirecTV in 2016 plus Sprint’s scaling back on NFL ads contributed significantly to this year’s industry changes.

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AT&T actually led the industry in terms of average view rate (AVR is the percentage of an ad that is watched across all view of that ad) at 89.81%, followed by Cricket at 86.46%. Though Verizon was the largest advertiser in terms of dollars and impressions, its NFL ads received an AVR of 79.42%, which was fourth overall. Straight Talk was third at 81.69%.

Another note about Verizon: Its year-over-year spending increase of nearly 40% was a big part of the wireless provider's overall rise as backers of NFL programming. Verizon spent four times as much as its nearest competitor, AT&T.

Check back Wednesday for another Super Bowl Ad Preview post, with more insight on the NFL’s biggest brand backers leading up to the big game.

John Cassillo is an analyst and contributor with TV[R]EV.