- Tech companies represented 19% of the TV ad spend for the NFL opening weekend, a larger share than any other sector, according to new research from ad intelligence service MediaRadar. Last year, auto, media/entertainment and tech tied for first place with 16% each.
- The top five spenders this year were: Google, Amazon, AT&T, Geico and Anheuser-Busch. Tech giants IBM and Samsung also ranked high.
- New advertisers this year that did not participate last year include two other tech companies, Apple and Facebook, as well as Starbucks and DoorDash. Levi's, Kohl's and Mars advertised last year but did not return for 2019.
Even as sports fans' viewing patterns evolve, the MediaRadar research underscores how the NFL, now in its 100th season, remains a prime venue for TV advertisers. In 2018, NBC's "Sunday Night Football" was the most watched TV program for the eighth straight year, with nearly 20 million weekly viewers.
The enduring strength of the NFL's TV audience helps explain why, of the top 50 spenders for last year's opening weekend, 88% are back. Pepsi recently announced its NFL campaign for the current season, which includes national TV advertising, local market spots, social media efforts, a collectible can, point-of-sale promotions and a kickoff party at the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium. The significant advertising presence of Google and Amazon also highlights the attraction for brands looking to build broad awareness, something both companies must do amid competition heating up within the tech sector.
However, even as advertisers welcome the large TV audiences, they must address the changing viewing patterns of NFL fans. Fifty-eight percent watched at least one game via a streaming service or app during the opening week, and over a quarter watched on at least two streaming sites or apps. In response to fans' changing habits, the NFL has upped its streaming content, most recently with the launch of a weekly show, "NFL Game Day All-Access," on the league's YouTube channel.
MediaRadar's research shows that TV remains attractive to advertisers across a number of categories, which can be partially explained by its unparalleled ability to drive awareness with a broad swath of consumers. For the NFL's opening weekend, TV advertisers in the media and entertainment business accounted for 16% of total spend — on par with the segment's share for last year's opening weekend — while automakers' share of spend dropped 3% to 13% and retailers rose 4% to 17%. Financial marketers' share also remained about the same, at 14% last year and 13% this year.
Alcoholic beverage makers accounted for 4% of 2018 spend and 6% of 2019's. Last year was the first time liquor brands could advertise in NFL games, albeit with limitations.