NFL Has Lower Ratings, But Pricier TV Spots

With a week to go before the start of the new NFL season, perception problems remain for the league — but probably not with national TV advertising dollars.

YouGov BrandIndex says that in comparison to Major League Baseball, the NFL continues to get low “buzz” numbers. For example, the MLB had a buzz score of around 12 in July of this year versus the NFL’s score of 4.

YouGov asks respondents: "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks — through advertising, news or word of mouth — was it positive or negative?” A score can range from negative 100 to 100, with a zero score being a neutral position. Research was conducted with 60,000 adults 18 and over interviewed since January 1, 2013, with a +/- 2% margin of error.

MLB had a higher perception score over the NFL for about two years — only slipping around the January period, when there is strong interest in NFL post-season games, including the Super Bowl.  

At the end of last year, NFL’s buzz index slipped to a negative 25. NFL has been plagued with continuing issues over the medical safety of its players, ongoing off-the-field player issues, and the New England Patriots' "Deflategate."

Perception issues also had an effect on TV ratings. Nielsen says last year’s regular-season NFL games declined 9% in viewership to an average 17.1 million viewers, while NFL playoff games were 6% lower to average 32.6 million viewers.

This has occurred as national TV advertising revenues climbed -- to $4.2 billion in the NFL regular-season games, up from $3.8 billion in 2015, and $3.5 billion in 2014, according to Kantar Media.

Analysts expect live TV programming will continue to thrive for advertisers in the wake of time-shifted TV and viewers' distraction over growing digital media.

Last year, according to Standard Media Index, all NFL games saw increases in the 30-second unit price that national TV advertisers paid.

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” rose 6% to $614,972 per spot, while CBS “Thursday Night Football” was up 9% to $537,494 and ESPN’s “MondayNight Football” inched up 1% to $301,733.

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