What's going on with football this season?
NFL says it is cutting back staff, media executives report inventory is available for many big national NFL games, and, yes, the Arena Football League -- the developmental league of the NFL -- has reportedly cancelled its 2009 season.
Though ratings are still holding up this season -- football is the presumed king of all TV sports -- there is some cracking around the edges. "I was able to buy into this week's Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants game pretty easily," says an amazed veteran media buying executive about the highly anticipated late season game.
NBC maintains that the NFL's highest profile event -- the Super Bowl -- is selling well, at a record pace (just around 8 units left), and at record $3 million prices per 30-second commercial unit. Of course, the Super Bowl is a different animal, not really a simple football game, drawing well beyond its niche audience of male viewers.
No matter. What we have learned here is that few media businesses are immune to the forces of a recession that looks to be long, debilitating, and industry-changing.
Recessionary times are changing the financial models of most industries -- especially domestic automakers. Yet even in its sorry state, the auto industry has yet to really abandon its one proven area of marketing: TV sports.
What will TV networks do if
they are unable to hit their advertising goals -- especially in sports?
Sports programming right holders grab billions of dollars from their TV marketing partners, the broadcast and cable networks. In recent history, those numbers have never seemed to slow down, let along decline, except perhaps for the NHL.
Now the International Olympic Committee is looking to delay the U.S. broadcast rights fee process for the 2014 Winter Games in
Sochi, Russia, and the 2016 Summer Olympics in a yet-to-be-determined location.
Why? Because in this weakened marketplace, the IOC won't get its $4 billion-plus rights fee for its two Olympic events package deal.
Can other sports TV programming and advertising adjustments be far behind?