Price of NFL commercial time spiked this season: Here's how much ads cost

Spike in price coincided with an uptick in NFL ratings

The cost of commercial time during NFL games has spiked significantly during the 2019 season, just two years removed from a sustained ratings decline that led some prognosticators to argue the league’s audience had peaked.

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Advertisers paid an average of $419,045 for a 30-second commercial window during NFL games in October, Ad Age reported Thursday, citing data from Standard Media Index. That sum marked a 15 percent increase compared to the same period one year ago, when 30 seconds of airtime during games cost an average of $363,016.

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The spike in price coincided with an uptick in NFL ratings this season. National and regional game broadcasts are averaging 16.7 million viewers through the first 15 weeks of the NFL season, up 6 percent compared to last season and 11 percent compared to two seasons ago.

Sporting events are one of the few types of media content still capable of drawing the large live audiences that advertisers covet. Linear television viewership has declined across the board in recent years as more customers cut the cord and subscribe to streaming services.

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After years of growth, NFL ratings sagged during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. The decline was attributed to various factors, including increased interest in cable news broadcasts, slow-paced NFL games and a mixed response to player protests during the national anthem.

The NFL took steps to streamline its game broadcasts, reducing the number of commercial timeouts and enacting changes designed to speed up the pace of play. On-field rule changes contributed to record offensive output from NFL teams during the 2018 season.

NFL ratings rebounded last season, rising 5 percent to an average of 15.8 million viewers compared to 2017. NFL games accounted for 46 of the top 50 television broadcasts in terms of viewership during the 2018 season.

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