Official League Sponsors Foot Most of Bill for 'NFL Honors' Time-Buy Awards Show

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NBC's first-ever
telecast on Super Bowl eve of the two-hour primetime awards special NFL
Honors
is sold out of commercial avails, but it was the NFL, not NBC, that
did the ad-time selling.

The
show, which will air from 9-11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, is a time buy, meaning
the NFL bought the two-hour block from NBC, and the league was
responsible for selling all commercial time. In addition, the NFL also sold the
sponsorships linked to all the awards that will be presented on the show.

The
commercials were sold in packages for both the awards telecast and the red
carpet show to be televised on NFL Network from 8-9 p.m. that evening. The
packages also included brand exposure at assorted Super Bowl locations during that
week.

The
NFL Network ad sales team sold the ad packages and the NFL Network is also
producing the show in conjunction with Dick Clark Productions. On the show,
which was only announced earlier this month, the Associated Press
will reveal the winners of seven prestigious awards, such as AP Most
Valuable Player and AP Coach of the Year, with the winners on hand to accept their
awards. Numerous NFL stars past and present, as well as celebrities ranging
from actors and actresses to singers are expected to attend. And Lenny Kravitz,
among others, will perform. 30 Rock star
Alec Baldwin will host.

The
NFL Network sales people first approached official NFL sponsors to advertise in
the show, and the limited number of commercial units left were sold quickly to
other advertisers. That's why some sports media buyers said they were never
approached.

No one
would comment on the amount the NFL paid NBC for the two-hour block, but a
broadcast network source familiar with the pricing of TV time buys said two
hours in primetime could cost in the ballpark of $3 million. Saturday night,
however, is the least viewed night on broadcast television, so it's possible
that the NFL paid less. And if all commercial avails were sold out, along with
the award sponsorships, the league should easily recoup its money.

In addition
to the commercial units, sponsors of the awards will have branding both on the
video screens on stage at the Murat Theater in Indianapolis, where the show
will take place live, and at the end of the video roll for each award shown
before it is presented.

During
the NFL Network's telecast of the Red Carpet show, Vicks, whose parent company
is NFL sponsor Procter & Gamble, will have a step-and-repeat banner as a
backdrop on the carpet where the celebs will pass through and stop for
interviews. Vicks will also sponsor other Red Carpet events during Super Bowl
week.

The "Green
Room" at the Murat Theater will be labeled "The Pepsi Blue Room." Pepsi will be
using that same activation at other Super Bowl event locations during Super
Bowl week.

As
with any time buys, NBC will have no control over the programming content or
the production, but since NBC is an NFL rights holder, and network star Baldwin
is hosting, the network had clearly been set to partner with the telecast
before it was even announced.

The various
AP NFL awards were revealed on multiple nights of the week leading up
to the Super Bowl on the NFL Network last year, but the league saw the benefit
of a bigger stage. The NFL sees this as a major opportunity to showcase itself
on the eve of the Super Bowl, and the show will draw a much bigger
audience than the 4.5 million and 1.0 18-49 rating that NBC averages on a
typical Saturday night with repeats from the week.

While
details were sparse about the future of the show as an annual vehicle, the
league is working to make sure that each network which airs the Super Bowl as
an NFL TV rights holder will also televise this awards show on Super Bowl eve. Current
rights holders include NBC CBS and Fox.

In
addition to Pepsi, previously announced top-tier sponsors include Castrol, Van
Heusen and Marvel Studios. Associate sponsors in addition to Vick's include
Prilosec OTC, GMC, Bridgestone, Papa John's, USAA and Xfinity.

Given
its limited amount of commercial inventory, if the show does draw a sizable audience,
those advertisers in on the ground floor will have nice outlet to target the
ever-elusive young male audience. And with the entertainment and
celebrity factor, plus the large number of women who watch the Super Bowl, this
show could be a surprise ratings bonanza in all demo groups on what is usually
a dead TV night.

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