NFL logo Jan 6, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General overall view of the NFL Shield logo at midfield during the NFC Wild Card playoff football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While the Super Bowl ended just a week and a half ago, the NFL’s TV partners are already looking to next season. The networks are already making an early push to sell ads for the 2019 season. According to Variety, CBS, ESPN, and NBC believe that the increased NFL ratings from last season will bring heightened interest from advertisers.

ESPN says it’s seeing interest from “fast food, technology, financial services, consumer packaged goods and insurance” companies for both its college football and NFL packages, while CBS says it believes that it will see even more interest thanks to its higher regular season and postseason ratings for last season.

The Super Bowl notwithstanding, ratings for the 2018-19 regular season were up five percent from the previous year. Audiences fell by 10% in 2017 and by 8% in 2016, and while the increase from the just completed season didn’t bring the ratings back to record levels in 2015, the networks are still encouraged by the increase.

As CBS, ESPN, Fox, and NBC look ahead to selling ads for the upcoming season, they will try to increase their commercial rates for a 30-second ad. Sunday Night Football cost on average about $671,000, while the Sunday afternoon games on CBS and Fox fell in the $500,000 range.

While the networks are giddy about the possibility of increased revenue, ad buyers aren’t feeling the need to pony up any earlier than they have to. Because there’s so much inventory between Thursday, Sunday, and Monday Night Football, plus the Sunday afternoon games, advertisers feel there is plenty of inventory to go around. Plus, they feel they can wait until the season starts to buy.

Right now, it’s a dog and pony show as the networks and advertisers do their dance before football season. The networks hope that they’ll get more revenue for the NFL, but we’ll need to wait and see if that happens as the year progresses.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.