NFL Gets More Game, Ups Ad Intake

In the grab for more TV shelf space, The NFL is not a newbie. There is $400 million in potential new ad dollars to consider.

As it has done in the past, it is expanding its product line. Slightly. Adding a regular season game for all teams -- now totaling 17-games per season.

The league made bigger moves in the past. Starting with Sunday afternoon football, then adding “Monday Night Football” (1970), “Sunday Night Football” (2006), and most recently, “Thursday Night Football” (2006 on NFL Network; 2014 on CBS/NFL Network).

Perhaps in not-being-overtly-greedy department, adding a extra regular season game to 17, up from 16 games, doesn’t seem like a big deal. All this will be part of a still eye-opening $100 billion, 11-year mega-deal with TV networks that kicks off in the 2022 season.

Though teams approved the move, players may have a issue when it comes to an extra game per season, subjecting their bodies and health to more injury and duress. One consolidation prize: One fewer pre-season game, going to three games from four. That said, pre-season isn’t an all-in contest for some first stringers, who don’t appear in all playable minutes.



It’s the regular season that counts more. The NFL went to its current 16 game season in 1978, from a 14-game schedule. Such additions don’t come often.

What does that one game mean? For TV networks, the average ad revenue per regular season game last season was $25 million, according to Standard Media Index -- which is massive for a three-hour or so piece of TV content. There are many legacy TV shows (lots on cable TV) that don’t pull in $25 million in an entire season.

But consider that advertising time in the NFL TV's regular season, playoffs and the Super Bowl has been inching up over the last decade.

The Super Bowl now has around 42 minutes of paid TV advertising from around 37 to 39 minutes. NFL regular season games now average 70 30-second advertising units per game.

Sure there is some glut -- as well as some TV viewership decline. But marketers remain attached to premium live TV program content pulling in 15 million average viewers per game. That's hard to turn down.

And for the NFL and its TV networks partners, all this means an extra $400 million per year for all those collective games.

Think the TV networks will have a hard time selling that advertising time? No. Clear the shelves.

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