Super Bowl LII is expected to earn a record share of network TV ad revenue for 2018, even as the NFL wrestles with a decline in ratings and controversy over national anthem protests.
NBC has largely sold out of Super Bowl ads, which reportedly fetched more than $5 million per 30-second spot. Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), NBC’s parent company, has said it projects about $500 million in total ad sales for the Big Game. That would set a new record for the amount of revenue generated in a single day by one company, NBC Sports Group Executive Vice President of Ad Sales Dan Lovinger told Adweek.
The Super Bowl’s share of overall ad spending is modest, but it has more than doubled in eight years. Super Bowl LII between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots will likely account for 2.5% of U.S. broadcast TV’s 2018 ad revenue, according to CFRA media analyst Tuna Amobi.
Amobi said the supply-and-demand dynamics remain favorable to TV networks, adding that “NFL telecasts remain quite desirable for advertisers seeking to reach mass audiences.”
Prices for NFL commercial time aren’t just climbing for the Super Bowl. The average cost of a 30-second ad during a 2017 regular-season game increased 1.1% to $473,775, based on data from market research firm Standard Media Index.
The upswing in demand from advertisers comes despite a second consecutive season of weaker NFL ratings. The NFL faced pressure this season from “cord cutting,” a trend that has presented challenges across the TV landscape, and fan backlash over players’ national anthem protests.
Total viewership during the 2017 season slipped to 14.9 million, a decline of nearly 10%, according to Nielsen data. The NFL also saw playoff ratings struggle with some matchups posting double-digit declines. An estimated 9% fewer people tuned in for the NFC Championship game between the Eagles and Minnesota Vikings on FOX. The AFC title game on CBS (NYSE:CBS), featuring the Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars, logged an 8% decline. The last two Super Bowls also lost viewers on a year-over-year basis.
Despite its ratings woes, the NFL remains a top draw on TV. NFL games comprised 37 of the top 50 most-watched TV programs in 2017, a 32% increase over 2016. The Super Bowl, which has drawn well over 100 million viewers in recent seasons, remains the top television event of the year and attracts interest from a wide range of advertisers.
Amobi also noted that four of the six highest-rated teams—the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants—didn’t make the playoffs, potentially skewing those ratings for NBC, CBS and FOX, a subsidiary of FOX Business parent company 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA).