The New England Patriots will face the New York Jets in a Thanksgiving-night game on NBC.
NBC is seeking an ambitious sum for ad inventory in its new Thanksgiving-night NFL broadcast, a signal that discussions for ad time in football could heat up in the weeks leading to the annual upfront haggling sessions between advertisers and TV networks.
NBC will attempt to get “pretty close to seven figures” for a 30-second spot in the game, which will feature the New England Patriots off against the New York Jets, said Seth Winter, exec VP-sales and marketing for NBC Sports Group.
The price tag is bold. Last fall, a 30-second ad in NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” — the most expensive program for advertisers at the start of the 2011-12 TV season — cost an average of $512,367, according to Ad Age’s annual survey of prime-time prices. At almost seven figures, a 30-second spot in the Thanksgiving-evening game would come close to doubling that price.
NBC is certainly trying to make the most of this year’s Thanksgiving-night game, which was previously available only on cable’s NFL Network. It was added to NBC’s schedule this year as part of recent contract talks with the NFL, so its ad inventory is not included in ad packages that NBC may have negotiated previously. “It’s a different animal,” Mr. Winter said in an interview. “We are looking at it as a unique entity within the broader NFL package.”
The network’s pitch? NBC believes that families will be sitting at home after dinner, looking for original content and potentially delivering huge ratings. The game also leads into the biggest season for retail and holiday purchases, starting with Black Friday the following morning and Cyber Monday after the weekend, so it could be opportune for a broader swath of marketers than typically advertises in football.
A price approaching seven figures would be in line with the one NBC has sought in the past for its Thursday-night broadcasts of the NFL season’s “kickoff” game, one media-buying executive said. That Thursday-night broadcast has attracted about 27 million viewers in its last two airings, according to data from Nielsen.
NBC’s aggressive maneuver puts a spotlight on negotiations for football advertising in the coming fall season. In recent years, with automotive marketers rushing to get ads back on TV after a recession, demand for time in football matches has been intense. Some sales have even moved in advance of formal May presentations for the upfront, when networks typically sell most of their upcoming ad inventory. Advertisers like the games’ ability to draw a wide audience that many dramas and sitcoms cannot match, as well as that a good portion of the viewership tunes in to watch the games live — meaning they can’t skip the ads with a DVR.