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May 22, 2019

NFL advertising revenue falls sharply despite higher TV ratings

November 30, 2018

For the TV industry, this National Football League season has brought good news and bad news.

The good: Ratings for professional football — the most valuable type of TV programming — are up 5 percent compared with last year. NFL broadcasts are averaging 15.8 million viewers this season, boosted by record-high scoring and more competitive games.

The problem is, advertisers typically buy commercial time before the season starts and negotiate ad prices based on ratings from the previous year, and last year’s ratings were down 10 percent from 2016-17. As a result, ad revenue for NFL broadcasters like CBS, NBC, ESPN and Fox fell 19 percent in the first two months of the season, according to Standard Media Index.

“The effects of the lower audiences last year are spilling into this season,” said James Fennessy, chief executive officer of the advertising research firm.

If this year’s NFL ratings increase holds through the end of the season, however, it could mean those TV networks will see a bump in advertising revenue next season.

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