Want to Sponsor the NFL Season on Snapchat? You'll Need $7 Million

Platform Is Competing With Twitter for Ad Dollars

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NFL has a new Discover channel on Snapchat
NFL has a new Discover channel on Snapchat Credit: NFL via Snapchat

Hut. Hut. Price hike.

Snapchat is huddling with advertisers for its new NFL channels, and has asked for as high as $7 million for season-long deals, according to brand and agency executives who have been offered sponsorships. Snapchat is now among a growing field of digital platforms with National Football League content deals. The league will post video from every game this season and create a special daily channel, which will be the first Discover channel run by a sports league.

Snapchat sells video ads alongside the football content, and has other ad formats like animated lenses and filters, which fans place on top of their selfies and share with friends.

Snapchat has been offering big-spending brands category exclusivity, which means no direct rivals can sponsor NFL content, for up to $7 million, according to one executive at a brand that was offered the deal. "We did get pitched to do a sponsorship, but it was too pricey for our campaigns. But I'll be curious to see how it does in terms of traffic," the executive said.

It may be a steep price, but it fits Snapchat's business ethos, which is to never undervalue its itself.

It went to market with its first ad product in late 2014, and looked for $750,000 a day from brands, which have been known to flinch at Snapchat's prices.

Snapchat declined to comment on ad pricing.

Many advertisers are interested in the platform, because of its young audience that's hard to reach outside of their mobile phones.

If this were a year ago and Snapchat were asking for these high prices, the company would have been "laughed out the building," said one agency executive, who is working with a brand to negotiate a NFL sponsorship deal.

However, Snapchat proved it can work with the NFL -- it hosted stories from the league last year -- and Super Bowl marketing took off on the platform last season.

"It's attractive and they have a good track record of doing things for the Super Bowl, where results were meaningful enough that brands felt good about it," the agency exec said.

Gatorade sponsored a lens during the Super Bowl for fans to virtually dunk their selfies in the beverage, like champions do.

Snapchat is taking the lead selling NFL sponsorships, the agency executive said, and some deals could include Super Bowl marketing on the platform.

The messaging and media app is competing with Twitter to attract these ad dollars. Twitter will stream 10 Thursday night games this season, and it had asked brands to pay $8 million for category exclusivity, which some advertisers also said was high.

Twitter and Snapchat's prices, which could buy a brand two Super Bowl commercial spots, show how valuable NFL content is, because of its rabid fan base and consistently high TV ratings.

"The prices that the platforms and the NFL itself are asking for NFL content are extremely high, but there are always going to be marketers willing to pony up to capture such an invested audience," said Orli LeWinter, senior VP-strategy and social marketing at 360i in an e-mail.

Snapchat is offering advertisers category exclusivity for video ads that would run in Live Stories and the NFL's Discover channel. Live Stories are videos from inside the games, mostly from fans in the stands sharing their points of view.

Last year, the NFL reached 70 million unique viewers throughout the season with its Live Stories on Snapchat. The NFL hasn't said what its Discover strategy is, but it is hiring to produce daily league content for the channel.

Snapchat is expected to offer lower tiers of ad packages for NFL sponsorships, too, according to people with knowledge of the offerings. It could break up some sponsorships into weekly buys, and come down a bit on pricing, these people said.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, whose Bud Light brand is a major NFL sponsor, bought ads on the channel, a spokeswoman confirmed. The brewer did not disclose what it paid.

The NFL has deals with YouTube, Verizon and other platforms.

"The NFL is seeing a transition in its audience, which has gone from an older population who watches a lot of TV to younger kids who don't," said Naseem Sayani, VP of strategy at Huge. "The NFL is exploring Snapchat because that's where it will find its new base of people that grows up with football."

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