Analyst Blames Games on NFL Net for Ratings Woes
Broadcasters losing viewers to Thursday primetime games
By Jon Lafayette -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/3/2012 9:10:21 AM
With NFL Network's broadened distribution this season and a new package of early season games, Thursday Night Football accounts for about 1-3% of the 8% drop registered by the broadcasters, according to Todd Juenger, senior analyst at Bernstein Research. The NFL Network games are also the "biggest contributor" to slow ad growth at ESPN reported this quarter, Juenger says.
"The NFL is a classic 'frenemy' to the TV networks: while it provides their single most powerful programming engine, it also exacts a toll of some $6 billion a year in rights fees," Juenger says in a new report Monday. "Now the NFL is taking another sizeable bite out of its network partners' economics, as the NFL Network has gained essentially full distribution and now carries 13 Thursday night games."
The NFL Network collects about $20 million worth of ad revenue per game, Juenger estimates. But he adds that the ad revenue impact on the broadcast networks is less severe because 50% of broadcast primetime advertising comes from categories that don't advertise on the NFL Network.
Juenger also notes that now that because the NFL Network had games in the second half of the football season for the past few years, comparisons going forward should be more normal, meaning less disruption in the ratings.
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