But don’t cry for the NFL just yet.
DraftKings -- which spent $56.1 million on TV ads from Sept. 11 through Oct. 11 -- dropped to $19.8 million the next month, according to iSpot.tv. That number sank to $1.5 million Nov. 11 through Dec. 11.
DraftKings competitor FanDuel spent $69.9 million in national TV advertising from Sept. 11 to Oct. 11. This slipped to $55.1 million the next month, and to 8.6 million Nov. 11 to Dec. 11.
At the same time, the NFL has been hit with TV advertising it would rather not see next to games: Sony’s “Concussion,” which focuses on football-related brain injuries. From Nov. 17 through Dec. 11, Sony spent $11.9 million in national TV advertising for the film, with $3.3 million going to the NFL.
You take the good with the bad. But the NFL is still the strongest sports league, with the most leverage, according to many TV executives. In this position, the NFL can demand ever-higher program TV license fees from network executives.
CBS' current package for the eight NFL games on Thursday nights cost $300 million, according to reports -- up from the $275 million level the year before. (CBS shares those eight games in a simulcast with the NFL Network. That cable channel runs the other eight regular season games exclusively).
For the next contract, the NFL is looking to sell the entire 16-game Thursday night season for well over $600 million.
The NFL continues to believe that despite whatever problems it has -- medical issues for its athletes, or with TV advertisers who many are now calling illegal sports betting operations -- TV viewers will continue to come, and advertisers in existing and new categories will continue to buy.
You can bet on that.