While it’s anyone’s guess when (or if) the 2011-12 National Football League season will kick off, NBC has already moved a significant chunk of its most valuable inventory. According to a number of sources, NBC has sold nearly half of its available Super Bowl XLVI spots, cutting deals with a number of repeat clients looking to protect their positions in the big game. Precise ad rates are unavailable, yet NBC is believed to be commanding rates above and beyond Fox’ year-ago average price of $3 million per 30-second spot.
With the NFL season in limbo and more than $3 billion in ads at stake, TV executives hawking their new lineups are seeking firm commitments from football marketers who might be tempted to call an audible come fall.
If an NFL work stoppage causes the cancellation of games next season, the biggest threat to television networks could be the loss of audiences that tune in early or stick around after each contest, Moody’s Investors Service said in a report Monday. ESPN will be the “least affected financially, despite its reliance on sports,” it concluded.