CBS Sports has kicked off its college football sales early,
getting substantial price increases for its Southeastern Conference schedule.
Because they generate live viewers who might watch
commercials when they air, sports have been a hot commodity with advertisers
the last few years. College football has been second only to the mighty
National Football League in generating ratings and ad revenues in the sports
Buyers say there will be a lot of college football games to
advertise in this season, especially with Fox adding primetime games to its
schedule. But CBS' SEC package has a limited number of high-rated games with
top-ranked teams and the threat of a potential sellout is pushing agencies to
do business now and pay CBS' price.
CBS also has the Super Bowl and might be leveraging that
with sponsors that normally don't advertise in SEC games, one buyer said.
"It's May 4 and we've done a fair amount of business," said
John Bogusz, executive VP for sports sales and marketing at CBS. He said the
market is moving a bit early this year and that CBS was scoring price increases
in the high single- to low double-digit range.
"We still have inventory but we're pretty well along,"
Home Depot continues as presenting sponsor of SEC football
and Dr Pepper will present the SEC Championship game. "Most of the incumbents
are back," Bogusz said. The automakers have been active in buying college
football, as have a number of regional fast-food players (Chick-fil-A, Sonic)
and financial services and insurance marketers.
ESPN is the biggest player in college football, with games
on both cable and ABC. One buyer said ESPN was still working on renewals with
some key sponsors before going out to the market. ESPN declined to comment.
Fox is also talking to marketers who sponsored the Big Ten
and Pac-12 Championship Games that aired on Fox last year, according to market
sources. Buyers say Fox is putting out proposals that would price its games in
the same neighborhood as those on ABC.
The networks are also having conversations about the
upcoming NFL season, but not much business has been done yet, buyers said.