NEW YORK -- For automakers and other major marketers, the cost of buying commercial spots in live NFL broadcasts is pricier than it has ever been, and yet available in-game inventory all but flew off the shelves in the run-up to the 2016-17 season.
The auto industry last season was by far the NFL's No. 1 client for advertising.
According to national TV buyers, the going rates for ad units in this season's NFL games are at an all-time high, despite the fact that last year's prices were already up in the stratosphere. On average, the networks that carry NFL games secured rate hikes of around 8 percent versus their year-ago unit costs, although NBC is said to have secured slightly greater increases than its peers.
For the sixth year running, the most valuable unit in primetime is a 30-second spot in NBC's "Sunday Night Football." Marketers looking to take advantage of the reach afforded by NBC's pro pigskin showcase are paying on the order of $717,375 per unit, with late scatter buys and slots in marquee matchups like the Sept. 8 NFL Kickoff game fetching appreciably higher rates.
NBC is also making a killing on its new five-game "Thursday Night Football" package, which kicks off on Nov. 17 with an NFC South battle between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. Unlike its "SNF" units, which are not uniformly priced, the rates for NBC's Thursday night quintet effectively were non-negotiable. "They asked for $560,000 per :30, and that's exactly what they got," said one TV buyer. "There wasn't any wiggle room on their price."