U.S. television advertising on soccer events rose 43 percent since the last World Cup to $378 million in 2013, a jump that mirrored the increased coverage of the sport.
Some 21 U.S. networks, including ESPN, Fox, NBC and Univision, aired 3,891 soccer telecasts last year, up from 11 networks and 2,613 telecasts in 2010, according to data released today by Nielsen NV.
Soccer will be in the global spotlight beginning June 12, when networks begin airing coverage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. At Walt Disney Co. (DIS:US), which will show all 64 of the matches on its ESPN, ESPN 2 and ABC channels, ad sales are running ahead of 2010 levels, according to Amy Phillips, a spokeswoman. Major sponsors include Kia Motors Corp., Hyundai Motor Co. and Adidas AG.
“Very little inventory remains,” Phillips said in an e-mail.
Advertisers including Hollywood studios, carmakers and brewers paid an average of $389,000 for a 30-second spot during the 2010 World Cup, up from $129,000 in the 2006 series, according to Nielsen. An average of 11.1 million U.S. viewers watched the first three games in which the U.S. team played in 2010.
Since Brazil is only one hour ahead of the eastern U.S. time zone and matches will begin at noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. New York time, ESPN expects a larger audience than four years ago, when the event was held in South Africa, six hours ahead. With 43 of the matches on weekday afternoons, the network also is planning for increased viewership on its WatchESPN and WatchABC mobile applications.
Univision Communications Inc., the nation’s largest Spanish-language broadcaster, also plans to air all of the matches, dedicating its Deportes sports channel to 24-hour coverage of the tournament.
Disney and Univision paid $425 million to FIFA, the World Cup’s governing body, to broadcast the events in the U.S. from 2007 to 2014, SoccerTimes reported. That deal included women’s matches and ancillary programming as well as the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. 21st Century Fox Inc. (FOXA:US) and Comcast Corp.’s (CMCSA:US) Telemundo paid an estimated $1.1 billion for the rights from 2018 to 2022.
The sport has some disadvantages as a TV advertising medium because the World Cup comes around only every four years and the game is played in two non-interrupted halves, leaving less time for traditional ads, according to Stephen Master, senior vice president for sports at Nielsen. Still, sponsorships do appear on the screen during the games.
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