Posted on 04/02/2014
The American football season reached its climax last Sunday, February 2nd in the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, as Seattle Seahawks encountered the Denver Broncos. But as the media hype was escalated, much of the attention was on the economics of the game rather than the football.
Professor Chris Hackley, who is spending a sabbatical in the USA at the Paul Merage Business School, University of California, Irvine, was interviewed by Victor Balta in Al Jazeera America that compared the amount of advertising during televised American football matches to the British tradition of having just one commercial break during three hours of football (soccer) or rugby, or no commercial breaks at all if the viewer is watching on the BBC.
American football matches last about an hour, but TV coverage is stretched to four or five hours with TV ad breaks.
The NFL is the richest sporting franchise in the world and generates around $10 billion in annual revenue, the largest portion being earned through their monopoly position exploiting TV viewing rights in the USA. The NFL are bent on expansion and part of the plan to double revenue is to export the sport to London. Work has already begun and three NFL games in London for 2014 are already sold out.
What will the pundits find to talk about the rest of the time when they're waiting for the action to resume? And how can the spectacle of the American football game earn the kind of money it does in the USA without piling on the ad breaks? American viewers may not be thrilled about the amount of advertising foisted on them but they're used to it. The BBC, the world's biggest public service broadcaster, carries no advertising, yet airs many of the top UK sporting occasions, giving fans an entirely ad-free experience.
The NFL know their game has appeal in the UK. They have to think of ways to monetise it in a very different media infrastructure.