NEW YORK: Average viewing figures for the regular NFL season and the playoffs were down but Sunday night’s Super Bowl remains a major draw for advertisers who will spend more than $5m for a 30-second slot during NBC’s coverage.

“It’s the last of the great big reach opportunities and, if you get it right, it gets people talking about your brand,” said Mike Kelly, an advertising industry veteran whose career spans AOL, the Weather Channel and Unruly.

“You would think that there’s a lot of risk given the protests and the counter protests and the health issues and the ratings being down, but it does not seem to be having an impact on the price appetite for the game,” he told the Financial Times.

NBC is reported to sold almost all its inventory and anticipates making around $500m in ad sales. “We expect February 4 will set a record for single-day revenue generated by a single company,” said Dan Lovinger, EVP/Ad Sales, NBC Sports Group, back in mid-January.

The upbeat atmosphere surrounding Super Bowl LII stands in contrast to that swirling around the NFL, where ratings were down 13% for the regular season, according to MoffetNathanson, and down between 12% and 20% for the playoff games.

“The NFL is experiencing a structural decline in viewership, and it is going to be an issue,” stated analyst Michael Nathanson.

And not just for the sport itself: Recode pointed out that over the past year, regular season NFL games and related content accounted for 66 of the 100 most popular shows on TV.

“TV has increasingly become the NFL,” it said, adding that “if two-thirds of your most-popular stuff is in structural decline, then you’re in structural decline”.

But Sunday night’s game will attract more than 100m viewers, making it comfortably the top television event of the year; one analyst estimated it will account for around 2.5% of all broadcast TV advertising revenue during 2018.

Sourced from Financial Times, Recode, Yahoo News, Adweek; additional content by WARC staff