What kinds of commercials are you exposed to during an NFL game?


I can’t stand television commercials. I dislike them so much that I usually watch my favorite shows only after they’ve been recorded on my DVR. Of course there are times when a TV viewer has no choice but to be exposed to ads. Sporting events like NFL games aren’t much fun to watch if the game has already been played, so watching them live is pretty much required. 

But if you’re forced to watch commercials during an NFL game, what exactly are you exposed to? My immediate thought when asking myself that question was – beer, pizza and erectile dysfunction ads.

In order to get a more accurate account, I tracked every single commercial that aired during the last two Broncos games. I recorded commercials that aired after kickoff, skipped halftime (it was a tedious process, I needed a break) and kept track until the game clock read zero. The games aired on two different networks and at different times of day, but I anticipated that wouldn’t make a difference and the results would be the same. Of course I was wrong. 

Check out these stats.

Game: Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City ChiefsDate: 11/30/14Network: NBCTime: Kickoff at 6:30 p.m.Total commercials: 92Commercials by product:Southwest – 1Big Box Store (Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target etc.) – 7Cars – 16NBC shows – 19Medication – 2Pizza – 0Banks – 4Insurance – 1Jewelry – 2Movie trailers – 3Candy (gum) – 1NFL (Network, Shop) – 3Tech (Amazon, Intel, Microsoft) – 4Headphones – 1Video Games – 3Fast Food that’s not pizza – 5Pepsi – 1Phones (Verizon, iPhone, Android, etc.) – 10Beer – 4Post Office – 1Army  - 1Rental Car company – 1Power Company (electric, gas) – 2Cable Company – 1

Game: Denver Broncos vs. Buffalo BillsDate: 12/7/14Network: CBSTime: Kickoff at 2:05 p.m.Total commercials: 105Commercials by product:Southwest – 2Big Box Store – 8Cars – 15CBS shows – 20Medication – 5Pizza – 3Underwear (Hanes, Fruit of the Loom) – 3Banks – 2Insurance – 7Jewelry – 5Movie trailers – 2Legos – 1Candy (M&Ms) – 1Pro-Fracking – 1NFL – 5Tech – 8Headphones – 3Video Games – 2Fast Food that’s not pizza – 3FedEx – 1Pepsi – 2Phones – 4Beer – 2

The 3 most common ads aired during the two Broncos games – show promos (39), cars (31) and phones (14). Looks like my prediction of beer, pizza and erectile dysfunction was way off. Oh sure, commercials for those ran too but only a total of 12 for those products (only three of the medication ads were for ED).

It’s pretty clear after looking at these numbers why a network would want an NFL game – so they can hammer viewers with commercials for their own shows. At 39 commercials, promos for network shows were the runaway number one ad viewers were exposed to. And I didn’t even count quick pitches with the bottom scroll that are read by one of the announcing team members when the network comes back from commercial. If I had counted those, the number would have increased at least by 10. 

Other surprises – There were only three total pizza ads and six total beer ads. I expected there to be a lot more of those. There also is a lot of diversity as several products were one and done. The number of car commercials was intriguing. In second place, 31 car ads seems like a lot, especially because I personally have never bought a car during this time of year and don’t know too many others that do either. I guess Honda, Audi and Ford know something I don’t.

What wasn’t surprising? All the ads were adult male oriented. Look at that this of products, not too much there that would appeal to a woman or a child. Don’t let the seven jewelry ads fool you, those commercials were clearly aimed at men so they’d buy a gift for a spouse or girlfriend. 

So what did I learn from my unscientific survey? NFL viewers are bombarded with ads and I’m glad I mute the TV during commercials. Aside from that, I was reminded just how big the NFL is. “The Walking Dead” may be the highest rated drama on TV, but it's doubtful AMC has such a plethora of companies that would make as much sense as advertising partners. A captive audience, family friendly programming, a live show you can’t skip commercials on and a product that never runs out of storylines is why networks pay such HUGE fees to the NFL to air games. 

It’s good to be the NFL.  

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