CBS, FOX, NBC, and ESPN spend billions of dollars for the rights to broadcast National Football League games. These games attract huge numbers of viewers while also providing an ideal forum for networks to promote upcoming shows. A look at viewing habits on CBS and FOX during September 2009 demonstrates that promotions for new programs during NFL games reach a huge audience that furthermore is unique and receptive. The multi-billion dollar contracts clearly provide a valuable return.
This September, CBS and FOX each used early-season NFL games to promote various new programs, including the following:
For each promotional campaign, networks placed a small number of promos during NFL games, and the reach of these spots was very large:
NFL games draw huge numbers of viewers, so a tiny number of promos wound up reaching a significant portion of the total audience reached by the entire campaigns. Moreover, a large number of these NFL viewers—over 700,000 STBs in each case—was unique, and did not see the promotion at any other time during the campaign.
It is clear that NFL games allow program marketers to efficiently reach a huge number of viewers. Better yet, these viewers often have not otherwise seen the promotion, so new people are exposed rather than simply hitting the same viewers over and over again. The final question deals with response rates. Do football fans exposed to promotion respond positively, or are they poor targets of promotion who watch lots of football but nothing else?
The answer appears to be the former: NFL fans respond positively to promotions for new shows. Series premiere response rates for promos during NFL games are nearly as high as response rates for all promos. If we exclude same-day promos, NFL viewers actually had higher response rates than average among all exposed viewers (in three of the four examples):
As we see, NFL games are a great opportunity to reach large numbers of new viewers who will respond positively to promotion. Networks value these viewers so much that they pay the NFL billions of dollars for game rights.
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