NFL Looks For Big Price Hike Versus A Year Ago
Whereas analysts have predicted negative, flat or perhaps small single-digit cost-per-thousand viewer [CPMs] increases for the prime-time market, TV networks selling the NFL have been talking up--and getting--surprising 10 percent-plus CPM increases for NFL programming.
"There's more male-targeted money out there; prime-time dollars are looking to be down in the upfront. All that spells some substantial rises in CPMs," said one veteran media buying executive.
"NFL ratings have been spectacular over the last few years," said Doug Seay, senior vice president of national broadcast at Starcom MediaVest Group. "The games are pretty good. It's live; it's DVR-proof; and it's guaranteed."
For example, looking at the collective ratings of the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl--key NFL programming--over the last few years, viewers have steadily grown from the 2000 season--31.2 million, 33.7 million, 36.3 million, and 37.3 million.
A number of major deals have been already done, say media buyers at NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN--at high increases versus a year ago. Toyota Motor will be the half-time sponsor of NBC's new "Sunday Night Football" package.
Part of this rush comes from the new NFL contracts with the league. NFL league sponsors are required to spend a certain level of media dollars with the NFL TV networks. Anheuser-Busch--a big NFL regular season, NFL playoff, and Super Bowl TV buyer--typically makes multi-year deals with TV networks. A-B has already made a number of NFL TV deals, according to a number of executives.
Many network TV sellers wouldn't talk on the record about NFL deals, but on background, when asked about the high prices set up by NFL networks, one network TV seller responded: "Sounds goods to me."
Last year, many NFL TV networks struck deals that ranged between 6 percent and 7 percent--deals that also outpaced the prime-time market.
Analysts feel that with the prime-time market destined to almost certainly sink, perhaps by 3 percent to 4 percent in overall dollars from its $8.9 million upfront plateau--and with few new prime-time shows for advertisers to get excited about--marketers might want a flight to the quality of the NFL, which has been the highest-rated of all TV sports programming.