The NFL’s TV partners, CBS and NBC in particular, were doling out free commercials to advertisers in November due to lower ratings. Advertising Age reports that the make-good ads amounted to about 20% of the spot inventory for both CBS and NBC, but they made up for it with some higher ad rates. The ratings slump in the first half of the season was mainly due to the Presidential election and brought NFL numbers down on all of the league’s TV partners.
Because both CBS and NBC experienced lower ratings in their Sunday national windows (4:25 p.m. ET and 8:30 p.m. ET), both networks provided selected advertisers make-good spots. But as the holidays approached and ratings rose, the networks were able to charge premium rates and made up for any shortfall due to the make-goods.
Ad Age’s Anthony Crupi writes that NBC was able to charge almost $721,000 per ad and that was up 10% from the same period last year. And for the Thanksgiving holiday games, all of the networks were able to collect beaucoup bucks for their commercials:
“…marketers who bellied up to any or all of the three Thanksgiving games paid a premium for all that reach, with CBS’s early Vikings-Lions broadcast fetching a cool $860,095 for a 30-second spot, while NBC’s prime-time Steeler-Colts throw down averaged $942,391 per :30. Fox boasted the biggest ask of all with its Washington-Dallas broadcast, which commanded an average unit cost of around $1.1 million.”
Fox hasn’t had the precipitous drop that the other networks have experienced, down just 4% and having the Cowboys in November helped to bring its ratings back from a double digit deficit.
But even with the higher ratings and higher ad rates post-election, the networks still weren’t able to equal last year’s ad revenue. Ad Age says industry estimates show the CBS, Fox and NBC suffered a 26% fall in NFL ad sales in November.
Yet, the NFL TV partners remain bullish on live football and with the Cowboys and Patriots already securing playoff spots, the networks can look forward to charging premium rates in the postseason.