The big corporate takeover of the NFL
Football means many things to many different people, and everyone has an opinion. In recent years numerous surveys conducted by highly reputable sources and publications have yielded results that indicate that football is, in fact, the new favorite “American pastime.” But for what reasons?
As the years go by and football gains momentum in popularity, everyone from networks to product advertisers and everyone in between have been conducting their own independent studies and kept an extremely watchful eye on the findings that might surprise some, and downright disgust others. Where there are eyes there are ads, and everyone wants a hand in the pot.
The purity from which the game was born still exists and is alive and well in this great country of ours, despite how it might look. Avid football fan, Preston Raines, is what one might call a “real” football fan, as millions of others in America are. Their love is for their teams, the game, its rules, its hierarchy. Raines says emphatically, “I love my teams and the way the game is played. Throughout the season I will always watch my team and see how they do against other teams. Every team has their playmakers: Good defenses and offenses.”
This sentiment, again, resounds with most true football enthusiasts all over. For example, Raines’ chosen team is the Atlanta Falcons. He’s been watching their progress all season long, which is why he tunes in to whatever network is airing one of their games in a given week. He boasts, “There are two top teams right now. They are the Houston Texans (11-1), and the Atlanta Falcons (11-1). The Texans haven’t been all that great over the past few years, but they’re a top team now, leading the organization along with the falcons.”
An individual not so familiar with the flow of the season might assume that this is the prime reason that 225 million viewers tune in weekly to catch a game. However, this is not entirely true. After the regular season the play-offs begin, for those who know less than most, the play-offs are a way of eliminating the best of the best for that season, ultimately leading to the Super Bowl, which usually airs soon after the following new year.
According to the NFL, networks and other media, this is where the interest really picks up. And the networks apparently are primed and ready to take full advantage of each and every curious set of eyes. This time of year translates in big business for all of them. Bidding wars among networks with the NFL reach a fever pitch, and the highest bidder wins.
The Super Bowl, unfortunately, is also synonymous with new product commercials aimed at the ready and willing consumers. The game, which is the single most watched broadcast on television, will air on the CBS network this year. According to their department of market sales, they had already sold more than 50 percent of their “inventory,” translating into advertising air space, by the end of May 2012 and as much as 80 percent a few weeks later.
There are a select group of corporations that have cornered the Super Bowl market that include Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi Co., who literally buy multiple spots throughout, in addition to names like Disney, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay and GoDaddy. The prices these Corporations pay are astounding – between $3.7 million and $3.8 million per thirty-second spot all the way up to over $4 million plus. And there is every indication that those numbers are poised to escalate as each new season begins.
As previously mentioned, the prime objective in the game of football is to play the game hard, play it well, conquer the play-offs, and win the season in the ultimate contest – the Super Bowl. There are still millions of fans, like Raines, who watch the games to pull for their favorite team to go all the way. Now, however, it would unfortunately appear that the celebration initiated 47 years ago to celebrate the league’s most deserving team is being shanghaied by advantageous corporate marketing agendas geared toward lining their already deep pockets with even more layers of our money. Until the real football fans themselves start to protest the circus that is becoming NFL in general, and the Super Bowl in particular things will only continue to go the way they are.