By Claire Atkinson
In an effort to take further advantage of the advertisements for which the Super Bowl has become famous, the National Football League plans to assemble a half-hour show consisting solely of Super Bowl XL TV spots for its video-on-demand platform.
The NFL is contacting creative agencies, media buyers, media planners and others involved in the process to remind them to secure rights to air commercials in this emerging medium.
“We are explaining that we’ll take your ad and air it immediately after the game,” said David Pattillo, director of media sales for the NFL Network, the league’s cable channel. “A lot of people are cooperating. This is additional buzz, and the advertisers are saying this is free PR for us.”
The NFL Network has run a similar Super Bowl commercial show on its cable channel for the past two years. That show, however, did not appear until midweek after the game. The VOD programming will be available to viewers just hours later.
As with all new platforms, the rights issues are a headache for creative agencies to navigate, but for movie studios it’s even more thorny. “Universal and Paramount have to pay the talent, and for them the cost means it’s just not feasible,” Mr. Pattillo said. “Those are the ones we’re having a little trouble with.” He said that around 80 percent of the advertisers involved in the game had supplied their ads for the cable commercial show.
An agency executive, who did not wish to be named, explained that to air commercials as programming there are additional costs that must be paid by someone.
“We get plenty of visibility,” the executive said. “Any company that wants to run the commercials would have to pick up the talent costs. There are also commercial music rights and publisher’s rights.”
The Super Bowl has long been the biggest TV viewing event of the year, with 89 million people tuning in to the last game. But the ads have become an increasingly popular reason to watch. A survey conducted in February by consulting firm Penn Schoen & Berland Associates found that 58 percent of polled adults said they talked more about the ads the next day than they did the game. The same number of respondents said they would rather miss some of the game than any of the commercials.
Only marketers that are in-game sponsors, not pre- or post-game, will be included in the VOD show, which is intended to air by midnight on the Sunday of the big game. Super Bowl XL is scheduled to be played Feb. 5, 2006, at Ford Field in Detroit and broadcast on ABC.
The NFL, through a deal with VOD measurement company Rentrak, will provide advertisers Web-like measurement statistics showing precisely how interested viewers were in the ads. Rentrak has the ability to provide data on such aspects as how many people watched the program, sped through spots or repeated them endlessly.
Super Bowl XL spots are priced at $2.5 million per 30-second spot. According to media buyers, ABC has around 10 spots left to sell. The Super Bowl usually contains around 64 spots. ABC declined to comment on its Super Bowl sales at this stage. Sprint has already said it has agreed to sponsor the halftime show.