America has had a passionate relationship with the NFL for a long time. With an outstanding number of dedicated football-watching fans, it should come as no surprise that marketers take full advantage of leveraging their advertising dollars to captivate the NFL’s loyal audience. However, fans have given the NFL some negative feedback regarding the “ad over-kill” and as a result, the NFL has been incorporating some changes to satisfy their viewers and keep advertisers happy.
The Fans Have Spoken, but was the NFL Really Listening?
Just before the first kick-off of the 2017 Football season, the NFL (based on feedback from their fans) had announced that they would cut back on the number of commercials during game time. While the NFL reduced the number of commercial breaks from 5 to 4, they extended the commercial break time by about 30 seconds.
According to the NFL, fans who tune into an entire football season will be exposed to at least 24 hours of paid advertisements. Football fanatics who watch the whole season, the playoffs, the Super Bowl and participate in Fantasy Football leagues will watch an average of about 172 hours. Sure, fans may see one less interruption but they’re still being exposed to the same number of ads, if not more.
A New Approach to Sports Advertising
What advertisers love most about professional football is that the majority of its viewership comes from live views and according to Variety, they account for 97%. Due to the fact that fans want to watch the game as it’s happening, this high percentage of live viewers shields advertisers from getting their ads skipped on prerecorded devices. However, the biggest concern fans had was the back-to-back clusters of ads that were shown before and after kick-offs and touchdowns.
Despite the NFL being one of the highest watched live programs, the NFL’s rating points have dramatically dropped over the past few years. A 10% decrease has been linked to fans feeling that their game day coverage is oversaturated by ads. The NFL has proposed a solution by attempting to make the ads appear more casual and less interruptive; they even condensed back-to-back cluster ads by 91%.
To make further amends with fans, the NFL and other professional sports programming have been implementing “double box” and “fast break” advertising into their mix and have received positive reactions so far. The double box method will show the ad in one section of the screen while still displaying a live shot of what’s happening in the stadium on the other side. The fast break method inserts a very short ad within the “down time” between the action of the game.
What Do Beer and Football Have in Common? (EVERYTHING!)
When people think of football they also tend to think of tailgating and a cold refreshing beer. It should come as no surprise that Bud Light has become one of the most successful advertisers in the NFL. So successful that they scored big and renewed their sponsorship as the official beer of the NFL through 2022.
Compared to other game sponsors, Bud Light receives about 60% fewer interruptions than any other NFL commercial. The success of Bud Light impressions could also be attributed to their non-traditional advertising strategy. Their most popular marketing campaign was the Cleveland Browns “victory fridge” which was a branded fridge full of free beer that would remain locked until the team had a victory. It created quite the buzz!
When it comes to advertising in the NFL, the only people playing are the football teams. Advertisers will spend big bucks to get their brand in front of the eyes of loyal football fans. The method of traditional commercial breaks may slowly be fading away, but advertisers are getting more creative with their messaging, allowing them to blur the lines between advertising and entertainment. With a more casual approach and smoother transitions, fans are having a more positive experience with brands and continue to stay glued to the screen on game day.
About The PM Group: The PM Group was founded in 1988. Over the past 30 years, the agency has continued to grow and is currently listed as San Antonio’s Largest Advertising Agency by the San Antonio Business Journal. The PM Group’s client roster spans numerous industries including automotive, CPG, entertainment and sports marketing, legal, business services, non-profit, real estate and fitness. In addition, the agency hosts an annual Charity Gala every February that to date has raised over $3 million for local San Antonio area non-profit organizations in the last 15 years! It is our way of giving back to the community that we so humbly serve.