Marketers Invest $2.5 Billion in NFL Telecasts

Even big Olympic spenders step up for TV's most dominant draw

With the start of the National Football League season just a week away, the league’s four major TV network partners have already cumulatively sold north of $2.5 billion of commercial time, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

So strong are NFL football telecasts in the minds of marketers that each one of the networks has sold more inventory than last season, at higher prices, and that’s despite advertisers having spent some $1.2 billion on NBCUniversal’s 17 days of Summer Olympics coverage this month.

Sports ad sales executives at CBS, Fox, ESPN and NBC interviewed by B&C all agreed that Olympic ad spending had no negative impact on NFL ad sales. Olympic advertisers who also advertise in the NFL, these execs said, simply diverted money from non-sports entertainment programming to keep their level of NFL spending equal to or greater than last season.

Making the networks’ NFL ad sales take so far even more impressive is that they had to overcome a cumulative loss of about $150 million in ad spending by daily fantasy sport companies DraftKings and FanDuel, which poured money into each of the networks the first two months of last year's NFL season. Neither has committed any ad dollars for this season so far, but the networks say negotiations are taking place, and scatter ad packages from both could be worked out once the season starts.