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NBC, Stations Near NFL Advertising Play

Apr 17, 2006  •  Post A Comment

In a play much like the one NBC devised with its affiliates for Olympics programming, the network is expected to control the bulk of the most valuable advertising time in “Sunday Night Football,” which kicks off on NBC this fall.

The network is footing the $600 million-a-year bill for more than six years of “Sunday Night Football,” which will mark the return of the NFL to the network after an eight-year absence.

It was unclear late last week whether the network and affiliates had concluded their negotiations. Both sides want to be able to wrap up the deal by the time they gather Wednesday in New York for work sessions on the eve of the Television Bureau of Advertising’s annual marketing conference.

While most networks ask affiliates to cough up cash to help pay for major professional sports TV rights, such as the Olympics and the NFL, NBC typically asks its affiliates to relinquish lucrative advertising time instead.

The final deal is likely to:

  • End up giving affiliates at least as much inventory in the game coverage as ABC affiliates had in “Monday Night Football,” sources said. Game inventory is the most prized because it’s the most viewed. This topic has been the major sticking point in the negotiations, and some of the stations’ game time inventory may be gained in return for the affiliates’ giving up local inventory in late-night Saturday, where the time may be more valuable to the network than to the stations.

  • Affiliates also are expected to get a good deal of local inventory in the pregame show hosted by Bob Costas. At 75 minutes, NBC’s pregame will be nearly five times as long as ABC’s Monday pregame show was. Starting this fall “Monday Night Football” will be on ESPN.

    NBC will frontload the pregame show with only local inventory in the first half-hour, as the network did with prime-time Olympics coverage. Game time for “Sunday Night Football” is 7 p.m. (ET). Given the competition at that hour on Sundays during the season, NBC affiliates may be challenged selling the early Sunday inventory at a good rate. They are up against heavily watched runovers of afternoon football games on Fox or CBS, CBS’s “60 Minutes” and ABC’s popular “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

    An NBC spokeswoman said, “The network does not comment on ongoing negotiations.”

    Hearst-Argyle Television Executive VP Terry Mackin, who is chairman of the NBC affiliates board, was unavailable for comment.