Despite Injuries, Scandal, NFL Delivers Ad Revs, Viewership

Even with NFL TV networks posting modest advertising revenue gains in the 2016-2017 season, have we have forgotten about long-term effects of concussions, deflated footballs, and some hits in early season viewership?

Maybe. But come August-September things may change.

Right now, NFL is still tops in TV programming. For example, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” is still the highest-rated prime-time series on television. Overall, for CBS, NBC, ESPN and Fox, the NFL still represents a big percentage of their overall viewership.

Despite any regular season issues, TV marketers don't seem to reluctant to spend media dollars with the NFL.

Total national TV advertising dollars rose 3% to $3.5 billion, according to Standard Media Index. Looking at individual networks, CBS had 4% improvement for a 30-second commercial to $435,001 for regular season games; Fox was also 6% higher to $551,497; and NBC gained 4% to $630,244.



And then things went higher.

In the postseason, wildcard games went up on average 11% to $713,059; semi-final games rose 13% to $970,060; and the AFC/NFC Championship added 8% $1.7 million.

Super Bowl 30-second commercial continued to hover around $5 million. (SMI says it actually grew 1% to $4,596,863). According to some media buyers, Fox, which ran the Super Bowl earlier this month, may have had some slight issues in selling out the last few commercials.

Still, after a rough start to the season, looking at the season as a whole, if I’m an NFL executive -- or a TV network executive who makes key decisions on NFL programming -- things look pretty good.

Considering predictable declines to other TV network prime-time programming -- including scripted and non-sports unscripted programming -- one can bet little if anything will change in TV marketers analysis of their NFL media plans.

TV network executives understand this: The NFL continues to be in the drivers’ seat when it comes to dictating programming financial terms.

Perhaps considering what happened this past year with suspensions, the usual array of off-field issues, and more importantly medical concerns of players, TV networks would do well to deliver something other TV producers get — dreaded “notes” documenting their concerns.  

All TV producers expect -- and in some cases - respect that.

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