The Bigger The Pie, The More Contentious The Pack

Labor battles are raging in Ohio, New Jersey, Wisconsin today, but there’s another high profile dispute between labor and management that’s been brewing for months, and the kettle could easily blow by later tonight.

Anthony Crupi at MediaWeek examines what a potential NFL lockout means for the media and advertising industries.

Should this game of chicken between management and labor take a turn for the absolute worst, the NFL broadcast partners would sustain losses of hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenue. Indeed, the NFL plays such a critical role in the TV marketplace as a whole that even the loss of a handful of games could have a catastrophic impact on the spring upfront.

In the short term, the loss of the NFL will wipe as much as $3 billion in ad revenue off the books at the four networks. Fox has the most skin in the game, having generated north of $975 million in ad dollars with its Sunday NFC package. Per industry estimates, NBC hauled in some $850 million courtesy of its Sunday Night Football juggernaut, while CBS’ AFC coverage churned up around $825 million. Per terms of its rights deal, ESPN’s Monday Night Football carries the lightest spot load, with ad sales adding up to around $175 million.

The President of the United States, as you can see in the video segment above, has weighed in on this issue. “I’m a big football fan, but I also think that for an industry that’s making $9 billion a year in revenue, they can figure out how to divide it up in a sensible way–and be true to their fans, who are the ones who, obviously, allow for all the money that they’re making.”

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Ian Beckles, also appears in the ABC News piece and he wraps it up by asking the rhetorical question, “When was the last time the NFL did something for the fans (benefit)?”

Beckles’ sentiment caught my attention because in advertising we talk about fans all the time. In many ways we’re working to bring a new fan-centric advertising to life. And then you have the NFL with its legions of rabid fans–a textbook case of brand loyalty in NFL city after NFL city. If any business ought to be thinking about the fan experience as brand experience, it is the NFL.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.