Advertisers Shaken: ‘We Are Now in a Situation Where the NFL is Declining’

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The NFL’s ratings are still flailing, and with the league’s numbers off seven percent over last year, advertisers are finally getting upset that fewer and fewer TV viewers are seeing their ads.

The ratings this year are so bad that the NFL is now scrambling to offer “make-goods” to advertisers who spent vast sums of cash to appear on TV during games but are now finding that the numbers are not what they were promised when they bought their ad time.

Indeed, according to one advertising executive, the league is now in decline, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Even as surefire as the NFL has been — and the last couple years, NFL ratings stood up much better than network prime-time ratings — we are now in a situation where the NFL is declining,” Gibbs Haljun, investment lead at WPP PLC ad-buying firm Mindshare, told the Journal.

The Journal pointed to the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day broadcast as a case in point. Advertisers were charged large fees for their commercials to air during the turkey day games. However, as a whole, the league’s Thanksgiving ratings were down seven percent season-to-date.

This year’s consistently lower ratings have brought the NFL to begin offering special deals to advertisers to make up for the falling viewership. Consequently, the league has offered a list of “make-goods” to their unhappy advertisers, including cash back, free sponsorships on digital platforms, and extra plays of ads.

“We’ve worked with every one of our partners individually to find what works best for them,” an NBC Sports spokesman told the Journal via email. “We will have delivery solutions for all of our NFL advertisers this season.”

Despite the ratings fall, the NFL is still TV’s best bet for advertisers.

A recent look at TV ratings by Sports Business Journal found that the NFL made up just over 75 percent of the most-viewed shows in 2019. Seventy-eight of the top one hundred shows were pro football games. And of the top ten most-watched shows of 2019, only one wasn’t a football game.

The NFL is also a powerhouse compared to all other sports. According to Outkick, of 2019’s top 100 most-watched shows, “The NBA had two” and “MLB had zero” shows in that tier.

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