By Barry Janoff
January 29, 2015: Despite having to face such serious issues as domestic violence, child abuse and the short- and long-term impact of concussions among its players, the NFL continues to generate tremendous revenue for itself and its partners.
The power of the NFL holds true not just among sports fans but also for companies officially aligned with the league as well as those businesses seeking to benefit from the NFL's impact among media and consumers, especially when it comes to the Super Bowl and its more than 100 million viewers.
Last year, eight companies spent more than a combined $640 million on ads during the 2014 NFL season, topped by Verizon at $128 million.
Second on the list was Ford ($81.8 million), followed by Southwest Airlines ($80 million), Toyota ($78 million) Geico ($77 million), Nissan ($76.8 million), Bud Light $(61.6 million) and Subway ($61.2 million), according to iSpot.tv, which tracks in real time "paid TV media and related earned digital activity across social, search and video."
The commercial that ran during the NFL season that had the most impact, however, did not feature an NFL player but instead stared the NBA's LeBron James, whose Beats by Dre "Re-Established 2014," chronicled his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers and his Akron home town. It generated more than 10 million views on YouTube after just its first four airings in October, according to iSpot.tv. (The spot has since topped 13 million views on YouTube.)
Second was Samsung Mobile's "Then And Now" spot to support the launch of its Galaxy Note 4. The commercial ran 17 times during its first two air-dates in September, according to iSpot.tv, and generated more than 9.8 million views on YouTube. (It since has gone past 22.2 million views.)
Beats by Dre also had the third most impactful spot to run during the NFL season, "Solo Selfie," which included a bevy of celebrities and had nearly 6.8 million YouTube views after just two airings when it broke in late November, according to iSpot.tv. (It is now reaching the 16.7 million mark.)
Fourth was the official Destiny live action trailer, "Become Legend," from Activision, which garnered more than 5.3 million views on YouTube with just five airings in two days that coincided with the NFL's opening weekend. (The ad has since gone past 11.6 million views.)
By industry, automakers were No. 1 during the 2014 NFL season, spending more than $812.1 million to run 2,004 TV ads on national broadcasts.
Companies in the wireless category ran 732 ads, spending $282 million; the fast food category also aired 732 ads but spent $187.5 million, according to iSpot.tv.
Companies in the auto/general category spent the third most, $213.3 million on 589 ads.
The Top Ten categories by spend during the 2014 NFL season also included beer (539 ads, $181.8 million spend), movies (512 ads, $177.2 million spend), computers-tablets-printers (311 ads, $151.7 million spend), TV networks (465 ads, $142.3 spend), banks-credit cards (360 ads, $141.9 million spend) and mobile devices (285 ads, $128.5 million spend).
Among the NFL's media partners (excluding ESPN, for which figures were not provided), CBS was on top with 39.4% of estimated national TV ad revenues from NFL games. The network, in its first season of broadcasting eight weeks of Thursday Night Football, ran 3,134 commercial airings, generating an estimated $1.62 billion in revenues from those ads alone.
Fox generated an estimated $1.09 billion, 26.5% of the ad spend, and accounted for 2,653 national airings.
"Of the 95,660 national TV ads that ran in 2014, the 110 spots aired during Super Bowl XLVIII accounted for 9.4% of all digital activity for the year."
NBC, which had 20% of the market with Sunday Night Football, generated $847.5 million in revenues on 1,639 commercial airings. However, 25% of all digital activity for TV ads from NFL games were generated during NBC broadcasts, according to iSpot.tv.
The NFL's presence is, of course, also having a growing impact on social media.
Of the 95,660 national TV ads that ran in 2014, the 110 spots aired during Super Bowl XLVIII (0.11% of all TV ads in 2014) accounted for 9.4% of all digital activity for the year, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iSpot.tv and all major search engines.
In addition, of the 128.9 million social actions (shares, likes, tweet, votes, comments) across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube explicitly linked to the airing of TV ads, 14.1 million (11%) were for ads that ran Feb. 2, 2014 on Fox during Super Bowl XLVIII, according to iSpot.tv.
And more good news for companies paying upward of $4.5 million for a 30-second spot on NBC during Super Bowl XLIX: Of the 4.7 billion earned video views for TV ads on YouTube and iSpot.tv tracked in 2014, 363.2 million — 7.72% — were Super Bowl XLVIII advertisers, per iSpot.tv.
Harris Poll: NFL Continues Runs As Top Sports In America
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