Just over a week away from Super Bowl LVI, NBCUniversal announced that it has sold out its advertising inventory for the “Big Game” across all platforms, with some 30-second spots selling for $7 million each.
NBC’s audience for National Football League games grew over the season, with the most viewership coming from quarterback Tom Brady’s return to New England to face his old team. During the championship round of the playoffs, CBS announced it had an average of 47.9 million viewers tuned in for the AFC Championship game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs, while Fox disclosed its average of 50.2 million viewers for the NFC Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams.
Despite Super Bowl viewership dropping to the lowest mark in decades last season (96.4 million viewers) when the game was on CBS, the numbers seem poised to bounce back this year. Combined with its Winter Olympics coverage, NBC is calling next Sunday, Feb. 13 “Super Gold Sunday,” a once-in-a-lifetime day of sports programming from which the network anticipates generating $500 million in revenue.
Outside of the game action, it has been a busy week for the NFL. The league has generated both positive and negative publicity due to the retirement announcement by the aforementioned Brady after an illustrious, 22-year career in professional football, along with the class-action lawsuit filed by Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores against the NFL and three of its teams, and the Pro Bowl set to kick off this Sunday from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On Thursday afternoon, Darren Smith and Marty on San Diego’s XTRA 1360 spoke about this year’s growth in Super Bowl advertising revenue, and how television networks seem to be unwilling to take a stand against the NFL in order to promote reform.
“Our opinion yesterday about, ‘Hey, if you’re going to inspire real change in the NFL, you got to hit them in the pocketbook; you got to hit them at the bottom line. These television networks [have to] play an active role…’ Yeah, no network is turning down $7 million for a 30-second spot,” said Smith, who has been a host on San Diego sports talk radio since 2004.
“Not NBC, not CBS, not ABC, not Amazon, none of them. I’m not going to wait for the TV networks to take a moral stand on this one.”
According to the afternoon drive program, Super Bowl commercials have been ruined since they began being posted on YouTube days before the “Big Game.” By seeing commercials early, they say, there is less anticipation and excitement surrounding them during the actual game, and one less thing to talk about the next day if the game ends up being a blowout.
“That segment doesn’t exist anymore in sports talk radio,” said Smith. “‘Hey everybody, let’s talk about the big movers for the commercials.’ They’re all up on YouTube.”
“That used to be the 12:30 segment on Monday, especially when you have a blowout in the Super Bowl,” said Marty Caswell, program co-host. “You [could] go ahead, move on from it and talk about the commercials.”
Looking back on some of the commercials from Super Bowl LV, such as Michael B. Jordan for Amazon Alexa, Jason Alexander for Tide, and Shaggy for Cheetos, the radio hosts had trouble remembering them. While most of the commercials for this year’s Super Bowl LVI are yet to be released, Smith is pretty sure he knows where the rise in 30-second spot revenue, up $1.5 million from last year, is coming from.
“We’re right back; we’re getting $7 million per commercial now,” said Smith. “Probably [from] some stupid crypto company.”
16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming
The news comes as Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
According to Nielsen, sports radio stations are the third-most streamed spoken word format, just behind Talk/Personality and News/Talk/Info. The trend is continuing to show that streaming is on the uptick.
The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielson reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
Nielsen notes that in the 45 PPM markets they are grabbing data from and the 4,800+ stations that stream in those markets, just 30% of them are encoded. That encoding allows for Nielsen to accurately measure the streams. They used the listener data from 1,500 stations across the U.S., in their latest report, AM/FM Radio Streaming Growth in PPM Markets.
The survey also showed that streaming levels differ widely by radio format. Spoken word formats display strong streaming listenership (Talk/Personality: 31.2%, News/Talk/Info: 19.1%, All Sports: 16.9%). In fact, Nielsen found that 1/3 of all AM/FM streaming in PPM markets is to spoken word formats.
New Study Finds Listeners to MLB on Radio Are Willing to Spend
More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team… 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.
When it comes to advertiser’s attempting to reach an affluent and engaged audience, sports talk radio might have a whale on their hands. Major League Baseball play-by-play features an audience that has money and has no problems spending it.
In a recent MRI-Simmons study, data shows that consumers who listen to MLB broadcasts on the radio are the perfect audience for sports marketers. According to the analysis, done by Katz Radio Group, nearly two thirds (62%) of those surveyed consider themselves “super fans” of baseball. That number is 58% higher than the average.
Those “super fans” are willing to spend to support their team, as well. More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team. Those fans are also far more willing to make the trip to see their team. The study found that 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.
The news continues getting better for advertisers. Continued analysis reveals that 66% of listeners are currently employed and have a median household income greater than $106,000.
Listeners to MLB games on the radio are also 34% more likely to place a sports bet and 106% more likely to be a participant in fantasy baseball.
Jeff Dean Signs Off At ESPN Tucson for The Final Time
Dean said on Facebook: “…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”
Fans will no longer be able to tune into ESPN Tucson and hear Jeff Dean hosting his show. Friday morning was his last show, according to his Facebook and Twitter pages.
The Jeff Dean Show had been airing from 7-9a MT weekday mornings. Dean took to social media to relay the news and the reason behind him stepping away from the microphone. Dean said on Facebook:
“This morning I signed off from my radio show on ESPN Tucson for the final time. I have been devoting too much of my life and my time to working multiple jobs…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”
Dean went on to emphasize that he isn’t stepping away from ESPN Tucson, he’s just taking himself off the air. He also added that “gladly, I will be continuing my position as PA announcer of University of Arizona Football and Men’s basketball.”
Dean would also go onto Twitter to add even further context for his self-removal from the ESPN Tucson airwaves. He added, “It’s not a decision I arrived at hastily, as it’s been a 6 month mental grind to make the ultimate decision that had to be made, and I’m not particularly happy about it, but I have to put my health first, we all do, and make sure we’re around long enough to enjoy life”.
Dean had been ESPN Tucson’s morning host since November 2019.