Magazine article ADWEEK

Networks Cheer Ad Sales for Upcoming NFL Season: Experts Point to Ratings Stability as a Driving Force

Magazine article ADWEEK

Networks Cheer Ad Sales for Upcoming NFL Season: Experts Point to Ratings Stability as a Driving Force

Article excerpt

NEW YORK While the television networks may still be a long way off from covering their hefty annual National Football League rights fees, advertisers are flocking to NFL telecasts. When the regular season opens this Thursday with a prime-time face-off between the Indianapolis Cohs and defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots on ABC, each of the four networks televising games this season will have sold between 85 and 90 percent of their NFL ad inventory.

"There are only a handful of traits left in each Monday Night Football game [on ABC] that we've held back for movie studios and possible deficiencies," said Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN/ABC Customer Marketing and Sports Sales. He noted that MNF is about 90 percent sold, while ESPN is right behind. CBS and Fox both reported being at 85 percent sold for their Sunday NFL inventory.

While none of the networks would confirm rates, advertisers are paying between $325,000 and $350,000 per 30-second spot on MNF and between $100,000 and $190,000 on ESPN, depending on the package. CBS and Fox are receiving between $250,000 and $300,000. "There's a good feeling about sports programming in today's marketplace," Erhardt said. "From an advertiser's perspective, it's a pretty safe environment, and it's TiVo-deflective."

John Bogusz, CBS Sports sales president, said some advertisers have shifted money from their prime-time budgets to the NFL telecasts. "We get a solid 10 rating every Sunday, with great demos," explained Bogusz. …

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