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Football Playoffs Are Moneymakers For NFL, Advertisers


The NFL playoffs are down to four teams. The 49ers, Patriots, Falcons and Ravens remain alive. Four other teams are gone, including the Denver Broncos, who seemed to have a great shot at a championship until this past weekend when Baltimore scored a last-minute touchdown to tie the game and then won in overtime.

These playoffs, of course, lead up to the Super Bowl, the biggest game in football and surely among the biggest commercial events in all of sports.

John Ourand, a media reporter for the Sports Business Journal is on the line once again. Welcome back to the program.

JOHN OURAND: Thanks, Steve.

INSKEEP: Unbelievable games over the weekend, especially that Baltimore game. I couldn't believe it.

OURAND: Well, 35 million of us tuned in for that Baltimore game, which was the most that ever saw in an NFL playoff game on a Saturday. So a lot of people agree with you.

INSKEEP: OK. So that's the first question to ask here. We hear a lot about the Super Bowl, and we'll talk about that as a commercial event in a moment. But the playoffs leading up to them, there are several rounds of playoffs; they must also be big money winners.

OURAND: Well, it just shows the strength of the NFL. The NFL is the most popular sport in America. It's probably the most popular entertainment in America right now. So we had about 35 million people tune in on CBS, which is more by 10 million than watched the championship game for the BCS with Notre Dame, which is a really big school and has a national following. So the NFL is doing really, really well. And what's really impressive to me about the NFL is that it's not market-based. So you had yesterday, Seattle playing Atlanta. We don't have the TV numbers back for that yet, but it was a close game and I'm sure that it got over 30 million, which is again, more than the BCS game. Can you imagine if you had a World Series with the Mariners against the Braves...


OURAND: ...the two teams that are with those - represent those two cities? I'm sure it would be the least watched World Series of all time, so....

INSKEEP: In other words, people are not just watching because it's the home team, they're watching because it's the NFL.

OURAND: Because it's football and there's just a love affair with football that's been going on for the past couple of decades.

INSKEEP: Now how has that going on even as some other sports have declined and some other TV deals have declined? I mean, the NFL just keeps going on no matter how the industry changes.

OURAND: Exactly. The NFL goes from strength to strength. And, you know, for example, you know, the Super Bowl ads, every single year for the past four years we've been talking about record-setting numbers that they're getting for ads. And if you take a look at TV in general, entertainment TV in prime time, advertising rates are going down, viewership is going down and it's the exact opposite for the NFL.

INSKEEP: What's it going to cost this year to get 30 seconds of time at the Super Bowl?

OURAND: Well, the average is getting close to $4 million per 30 seconds, which is yet another record. And the records go up by about 10 percent each year, it seems. And advertisers still view - even with that big price point - the Super Bowl as being just the best place to shop their wares.

INSKEEP: Isn't it still true though - especially since the price keeps going up - that on a strict dollar-for-dollar basis it's not worth it, you don't get enough people to justify $4 million for an ad in the Super Bowl?

OURAND: Well, that's what GM decided back in the spring. And they decided that they wanted to pull out because the price was getting too high. And GM has been a big advertiser in the Super Bowl for the past couple of years. Well, this year you have Audi,, Chrysler, Mercedes, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, VW. There're plenty of car advertisers that are deciding that the Super Bowl really is one of the two, maybe three TV shows that aggregates such a huge audience that they really want to launch a product by or shop their wares on.

INSKEEP: John, thanks very much.

OURAND: Thank you very much, Steve.

INSKEEP: John Ourand is the media reporter at the Sports Business Journal. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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