Week one of the 2021 NFL season is in the rearview mirror, and data confirms sportsbook operators holding advertising agreements with the league took advantage of those accords.
The league’s approved sportsbook operator partners spent $21.4 million on advertising in the first week of the season. Prior to the start of the season, the NFL struck deals with BetMGM, FOX Bet, PointsBet, and WynnBET as approved sportsbook operators. That quartet joined Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, and FanDuel with that coveted status.
Under league rules, a maximum of six sportsbook advertisements can air per broadcast. Led by FanDuel, gaming companies mostly took advantage of that allotment, commanding 90 slots. FanDuel ran 42 ads between NBC’s “Thursday Night Football” and “Sunday Night Football.”
Only insurance giants GEICO and Progressive and DirecTV Stream ran more spots over that span than the gaming company, reports Sportico. FanDuel is the largest online sportsbook operator in the US and is 95 percent owned by Flutter Entertainment (OTC:PDYPY). Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD) owns the other five percent.
Big Expectations for NFL Betting Ads
While the NFL long permitted ads for fantasy football and daily fantasy sports (DFS), this is the first year the league is permitting ads directly pertaining to sportsbooks.
The league’s change of heart on that matter boils down to simple economics. By some estimates, the aforementioned seven sportsbook partners could spend up to $1 billion running spots during NFL broadcasts this year.
That figure isn’t a stretch. The NFL is the most popular sports league in the US, football is the most wagered-on sport, and the league’s broadcasts are often among the highest-rated shows during the season – all traits that combine to give the league pricing power with advertisers. Additionally, the regular season is 17 games this year, up from 16, providing another week of ad revenue-generating opportunities for the league.
The $1 billion figure is all the more credible when considering NBC Sports is already saying it’s seeing strong demand for ads to air during Super Bowl LVI on February 13, 2022. Spots for that game are expected to cost $6.5 million and the network confirms there’s already interest among some of the sportsbook operator partners.
Monday Night Absence
Conspicuous by its absence from the sportsbook advertising party was ESPN’s Monday Night Football. The first game of the 2021 edition of the storied NFL broadcast featured no sportsbook ads, though DraftKings had a Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) spot during the game.
That could be a one-off, attributable to the start of the season. The gaming companies are focusing their ad spending on Sunday games.
Monday Night Football is usually a highly rated broadcast, and this year’s slate features some marquee matchups that gaming companies are likely to want to capitalize on.