Two years ago, when Notre Dame’s football fortune looked bright(er), NBC inked an exclusive broadcast contract with the school for $45 million over 5 years. This year the team finished 3-9 and ratings are down by 50% on average from 2005 and NBC being forced to pay for the Irish’s slump. NBC is handing out free ad time to companies like Allstate and Proctor & Gamble, that paid $55,000-$80,000 for 30 second spots before the season began to compensate for the lack of viewers, according to Businessweek, adding to NBC’s end-of-year woes.
Professional football has been a bit kinder to NBC, but with 16.5 million viewers on average, “Sunday Night Football” is running behind day games on CBS and Fox, which are averaging 16.8 million per telecast. If the standings don’t change, it will be the first time a primetime football broadcast averaged fewer viewers than an afternoon broadcast.
But before concluding NBC got a raw deal with its $600 million/yr NFL package, consider ESPN, which is really glad it can collect those $3 monthly subscriber fees. ESPN paid $1.1 billion a year to take over Monday Night Football from ABC two years ago, but is only averaging 11.5 million viewers so far this season. And because NBC got “flex” scheduling for late season games, it will have a game Sunday that truly matters (Redskins vs. Vikings), while ESPN gets a game (Broncos v. Chargers) with no playoff implications.
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