Although NFL program viewership is now more positive than TV media executives expected before the current season started -- just about flat versus a year ago -- national TV advertising revenues remain a question mark through eight games.
Since the beginning of the season, ad revenues from NFL programming on CBS, NBC, ESPN, Fox and the NFL Network are at $1.72 billion from September 6 to October 31, according to iSpot.tv -- 4% higher than the $1.65 billion total of a year ago.
But looking at just the first month of the season, September, another TV advertising research company -- Standard Media Index -- - says in-game NFL revenues were down 5%, although four more games were run that month.
SMI says this is due to expectations from the previous season -- when early NFL season games were down anywhere from 10% to 15% -- prompting some concern among TV industry analysts.
“The NFL’s revenue decline is a reflection of the lower audiences last year,” says James Fennessy, CEO of SMI. “The loss of viewers last year led marketers to denote smaller ad budgets to the NFL this year. As audiences return, we’ll be watching whether the revenue follows suit.”
SMI gets 70% of its data from actual major and independent media agency invoices. It then models out the remainder to get to 100% of TV advertising data.
For its part, iSpot.tv,says NFL advertising revenues have been virtually flat for the first time in September -- the first four weekends -- at $851.5 million versus $850.1 million.
Advertising estimates for iSpot.tv come from a combination of SQAD pricing data and ACR (automatic content recognition) data through smart TV sets -- around 8 million TV sets/devices via Vizio’s data business, Inscape.
Through eight games this year, average viewing of NFL games on NBC, Fox, CBS, ESPN, and NFL Network comes in at 14.86 million viewers -- virtually even with the first eight games of a year ago, when the total was 14.88 million.