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News - Advertising Dollars at Stake as NFL Dukes it Out

Mar/2011

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Advertising Dollars at Stake as NFL Dukes it Out

If the language of football were to be used to describe the advertising sales market, one could easily say that this is the year that the NFL went thermonuclear. With just hours to go before the Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to be null and void, the threat of a disastrous lockout could silence the artillery altogether.

While the majority of our nation is anxiously waiting a profitable decision between the NFL and the players union, the possibility of a lockout that would prevent any communication between active NFL players and their respective franchises is still a looming possibility.

What does this mean for the NFL and their fans? A lot. In addition to pre-season and early fall games being pulled from the schedule, the worst case scenario could mean the entire 2011-12 season being scuttled.

While this is terrifying for die-hard Cheese Heads, Bears Fans and the Who-Dat Nation, it’s even more terrifying for the advertising world. Should this game of chicken between management and labor reach its absolute worse, the broadcast partners of the NFL would suffer losses totaling up to hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenue. Even if only a handful of games are cut from the schedule, the impact of the financial loss would be catastrophic.

Fox has the most to lose in this scenario, having generated over $975 million in ad dollars with its NFC package deal. NBC and CBS aren’t far behind, with $850 million and $825 million, respectively.

While replacement programming has been considered an option, very few are optimistic of this approach.

“As was proven in the past, replacement programming became a landscape of illegitimate sports”, one former sales veteran stated.

ESPN has the brightest side to look at. If a lockout in fact, does occur, college football would be the first (and maybe the only) to benefit. This would put ESPN in the driver’s seat, seeing as it, along with ABC, control 90% of NCAA football, and carry 33 out of the 35 bowl games.

Only time will tell…and time is running out quickly.

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