Not so fast: Many football team executives -- and big marketing executives who have partnered with the NFL -- have come out in support of the NFL and Roger Goodell, commissioner of the league.
Still, as we all know, business is business. Should even one TV marketing partner believe that the NFL erred in any way, and decide to bolt, that might mean a crack in the seemingly ever bigger and more powerful NFL media wall -- from a marketing perspective.
Marketers have increasingly depended on NFL content, due to its consistent delivery of viewers, as opposed to the steeper fractionalization of other traditional TV content. So the NFL has been able to consistently raise its sports licensing fees to TV networks; and TV networks in turn can charge more to TV advertisers. NFL’s own goal is to raise its current $10 billion a year business to a $25 billion one by 2027.
But shouldn’t marketers be able to find alternatives that target male TV viewers in the new digital media marketplace? Broad-based media vehicles reaching a large numbers of male viewers -- young and old -- in one big media buying act is hard to come by. Looking to buy action-adventure/horror/mystery/edgy shows? AMC’s “Walking Dead”? CW’s “Arrow”? TV programming on cable channels such as Spike, MTV, ESPN, or Esquire? Sure, some of that makes sense. But all this comes without the impact of the NFL.
Where are you going to get 20 million to 25 million viewers in just one prime-time three-hour TV program? Or perhaps 15 million or so for weekend afternoon TV programming? And all this coming a couple of times a week for around 20 fall/winter weeks (including post-season activity)?
The answer is: You can’t. Want to buy “audience,” not TV “programming”? Go ahead. You have your work cut out for you.
In the meantime, you might want to take the easy way out, cross your fingers, and hope everyone (especially the NFL and its players) does the right thing.