Southwest Fenwick

A big part of the perceived value of live sports is that they’re “DVR-proof” programming, leading to people watching commercials instead of fast-forwarding through them. That’s been a key factor in soaring rights deals (which are related to both viewership and how much money networks can get selling ads for that programming), especially when it comes to the NFL. Not all commercials that air during live sports are watched equally, though; sometimes viewers change the channel, or get up for food or a bathroom break. And commercials can have value beyond just their TV airings, especially if they spur online discussion or searches for the brand.

So which ads have been particularly good at getting people to watch, or at sparking online activity? Earlier this week, advertising analytics site sent along some interesting data on that front for the NFL playoffs:

Most Seen Creative in the NFL Playoffs — “I Am Fenwick”:

The most-viewed ad, by far, has been Southwest Airlines’ “I Am Fenwick,” with 381 million TV  impressions during NFL Playoff games– the ad had a completion rate of 78%- as much a tally/reflection of the creative AND the channel jumping when it aired.

Facebook Live Ads Keep Channel Changers Away

The two Facebook Live ads — “Dance Moves” and “Waterfall” — each had a 100% AVR, earning over 6 million impressions. (Fidelity, U.S. Bank, Mercedes-Benz and Google Phones were on a short list of advertisers with an AVR of 99 percent or higher during the NFL Playoffs as well.)

Most Discussed NFL Playoffs TV Ad — Apples iPhone “Stroll” ad caught people second screening–

Apple’s iPhone “Stroll” spot came in with 98.92% AVR on six airings, for a grand total of 113.4 million views. But “Stroll” is also controlling 21.46 percent of the online activity around playoff ads — five times that of the nearest competitor.

That last metric is worth taking a look at, especially given how far Apple was ahead of the competition.’s Top 10 list for the NFL playoffs has the next online activity as Nationwide’s “Songs For All Your Sides” ad, controlling 4.30 per cent of that online activity, while Mountain Dew’s “Freak Chain” is third with 4.02 per cent. Interestingly enough, though, Mountain Dew spent way less money (presumably because they bought less slots) than those top two, coming in with an estimated TV spend of $1.85 million versus Nationwide’s $8.19 million and Apple’s $15.03 million.

Of course, online activity isn’t everything, and it may be easier for certain brands particularly focused on younger demographics (like Mountain Dew) to generate it. What people discuss in their homes or think internally matters, too; it’s just harder to track (but that’s what panel surveys and so on are for).  This data is valuable, though, and it shows that all of Southwest, Facebook and Apple appear to have gotten their money’s worth for their NFL playoff buys, just in different ways.

The broadcasters got their money worth, too. ispot.TV’s page for the last 14 days (so the divisional and conference championships) showed an estimated total TV spend of $568,163,513 for NFL playoff airtime (from 226 brands, for 492 spots and 1,660 total airings). That’s not bad at all, and it helps illustrate why networks are willing to pay so much for the NFL.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.