2018 MLB's TV National Ad Revenues Remain Stable

National TV advertising revenue for regular-season Major League Baseball games remained stable this year -- and looks to stay that way for the playoff season.

Pricing for this year’s MLB playoff games -- from early-round games at around $100,000 per 30-second unit pricing to World Series games averaging around $500,000 -- is nearly the same as a year ago, according to media executives.

The cost per thousand [CPMs] viewing post-season pricing is up by single-digit percentage gains, according to reports.

This appears to follow the trends of the regular season -- in terms of national TV revenue. Kantar says the league brought in $230.5 million in 2018 -- as of games through September 26 -- compared to $230.6 million in 2017. In the two previous years it was $225.2 million (2016)and $225.5 million (2015).

Jon Swallen, chief research officer, Kantar Media, said: “It’s been holding relatively stable” while at the same time, regular-season MLB viewership is approximately "flat to down 1%."

This past season witnessed a slight hike in advertising inventory -- up 3%. Swallen says this is attributable to more games on Fox Sports 1 cable network, as well as inventory on two Spanish-language networks carrying baseball games.

Looking at MLB’s upcoming big event -- the World Series -- Swallen says “on the per-game basis, over the last three years, revenue has been been trending up.” This factors in a heightened profile for specific teams such as the Chicago Cubs (in 2016), winning its first World Series in more than 100 years.

Overall, post-season revenue is also highly dependent on how many games the World Series gets to air past the minimum four games. Games five, six, and seven can be a big financial bonus for Fox, the TV network that is airing the event.

Swallen also notes the World Series gets a major boost in TV viewership when it comes to post-season games versus the regular season.

This year’s top regular-season advertisers for MLB games include Softbank Corp. ($10.1 million); General Motors ($8.6 million); Berkshire Hathaway ($7.4 million); Ford Motor ($6.9 million); Verizon Communications ($6.8 million); , Anheuser-Busch InBev ($5.6 million); Procter & Gamble ($5.5 million); Wells Fargo & Co. ($5.0 million); and Yum Brands ($4.5 million).

Four top 10 advertisers -- General Motors, AT&T, Ford Motor Co., Anheuser-Busch InBev and Yum Brands -- have been in the top 10 advertisers for Major League Baseball for the last four seasons.

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