Monday Night Football kicks off with a classic AFC North battle on Monday, September 10th between our beloved Baltimore Ravens and division rival, the Cincinnati Bengals. On the field, stats will be recorded for Flacco vs. Dalton and Rice vs. Green-Ellis, but off the field, buyers will be watching the ratings closely to see how the numbers delivered, and deciding whether advertising in Monday Night Football is the right thing to do for their clients.
Monday Night Football is the most watched and longest-running sports series in cable TV history. In six seasons on ESPN, MNF had seven of the top ten all-time biggest HH audiences in cable history, averaging a 9.7 rating in 2011 and 13,252,000 viewers. MNF offers a huge opportunity for advertisers to reach a diverse, captive and live audience, since most sports programming is watched live rather than DVR’d, and Monday Night Football appeals to a variety of viewers.
Its popularity is expected to grow this year, as the Rolling Stones will partner with MNF to celebrate the Stones’ 50th Anniversary. Through a series called “Legend to Legend”, tracks from the legendary band will be paired with MNF highlights and featured during the pre-game show, in-game, and in the post-game show on Sports Center.
So, given the continued popularity of the series and the hype around the Rolling Stones, is Monday Night Football the right venue for your marketing dollars? Here are a few basic questions you should ask first before spending money to advertise on Monday nights:
- Is your target audience watching Monday Night Football?
Consider who you’re reaching and hone in on their interests. Pull qualitative data to find out what they’re watching on TV, if they are watching sports programming, and if so – what sports are they watching? Also consider whether people are watching the game outside of their homes, such as a bar or restaurant, where your ad may receive additional exposure.
- Is it cost-effective?
Many cable companies will offer MNF packages on a zoned basis, making it more cost-effective for advertisers. And, when you look at the costs amortized over several months, the pricing is very reasonable, given the reach and notoriety of appearing in-game.
- Should you buy a package, or can you buy on a per-game basis?
Most MNF packages sell out well before pre-season begins, so inventory may be limited. Also, cable companies often include Thursday night games on the NFL Network and/or a digital component to give advertisers more exposure, and more bang for their buck. If there is bonus inventory available in MNF, the cable system will sometimes offer bonus spots to existing advertisers – an incredible way for advertisers to get added value!
- How do last year’s ratings compare in your market?
The best way to gauge how many people you will reach with a MNF spot is to look back at the previous year’s ratings and estimate an average figure that you and the cable system can live with. Some ratings will fluctuate, depending on whether the home team is playing, if they are teams that have a National following, or if the game features division rivals.
- Do you have the right creative?
Media Works focuses on the media side of the advertising puzzle, but we can’t ignore the importance of using the right creative. Will your spot include incentives that need to be changed frequently? Will your spot include generic or branding information? Will it drive traffic to a website or promotional portal?
On a related note, Media Works would also like to pay tribute to the late Art Modell. He received much criticism from Cleveland fans for moving their team to Baltimore. And, coming from a city that knows what it’s like to lose a football team, we can certainly empathize. (At least Cleveland got to keep the name, the uniforms and any Hall of Fame records…) Art Modell was loved by many and helped change the NFL in ways that we take for granted. We will honor him along with the rest of Baltimore with a moment of silence before Monday night’s game.