Upfront 2010

Football Already Winning Upfront Deals, Networks Say

Live Sports Benefit From DVR Effect on Scripted Shows

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Advertisers are already focusing on buying time in football broadcasts, according to networks, even before the networks have put much of their prime-time lineups on the grid for consideration.

Live sports have taken on extra importance in an era when viewers can record shows and watch them later, skipping the ads meant to support the programs in the process.
Live sports have taken on extra importance in an era when viewers can record shows and watch them later, skipping the ads meant to support the programs in the process. Credit: AP
Executives at two different broadcast networks said Monday that they had already seen interest from marketers in purchasing ad time in football.

"There are discussions," said Jon Nesvig, president-sales, Fox Broadcasting Co., during a conference call today with reporters. "There have been some deals cut in football."

"The market is strong and big" and advertisers "don't have to wait for the prime-time analysis" before deciding to put money down on football events, Mr. Nesvig added.

Speaking on CNBC this morning, NBC Universal President-CEO Jeff Zucker said NBC Sports had already seen interest from marketers in its "Sunday Night Football" broadcasts.

While it's unusual for commercial time during football to move in advance of prime time, executives said it may reflect renewed spending from auto companies and the increased importance of live sports to advertisers. Live sports have taken on extra importance in an era when viewers can record shows and watch them later, skipping the ads meant to support the programs in the process. Football games are typically watched as they happen -- who wants to risk hearing about the winner or the best moment of the contest? -- and, typically, the ads are too.

Football was also an attractive prospect in this TV season's scatter market, with media outlets ranging from Fox, CBS, NBC and ESPN seeing wide interest in its gridiron telecasts -- for both pro and college games. Marketers spent approximately $2.66 billion on national NFL-related TV broadcasts between September 2008 and February 2009, according to Kantar Media.