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The N.F.L.’s New Play: Embrace Betting Ads, Watch the Money Pour In

  • September 15, 2021

The network saw a surge in advertising interest for N.F.L. broadcasts this year. Bogusz attributed “a good portion” of the growth to sports betting ads.

“Overall, the volume is up among all advertisers, but that added to it as well,” he said. “I think it will continue to grow.”

Dan Lovinger, the executive vice president of advertising sales for NBC Sports Group, said on a conference call that the surge from sports betting operators was “reminiscent to when the fantasy category opened up.”

In 2015, FanDuel and DraftKings spent millions blitzing the airwaves with commercials to gain a larger audience for daily fantasy games, where fans pay an entry fee to assemble rosters of real football players to play against the rosters of other fantasy players.

The blitz worked. Sort of.

The campaigns attracted customers but also the attention of regulators and prompted complaints from viewers who grew weary of the repetitive advertisements. Both companies spent fortunes on lawyers and lobbyists and endured intact to pivot to sports betting.

The average amount of actual game action over the course of a three-hour broadcast of an N.F.L. game is about 11 minutes. Halpin said the league’s internal research showed that among its fans age 21 and older, roughly 20 percent were frequent sports bettors who were mostly young and male, and that another 20 percent — mostly women over 55 — were “active rejecters.”

To navigate this stark divide, as well as persuade those in the middle, the N.F.L. decided to limit sports betting ads to one per quarter along with a pregame and halftime spot — six in all per broadcast.

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