A popular sporting event is an advertiser’s dream. Likewise, it is the advertising revenue that allows networks to pay the sporting entities in the United States massive sums of money in exchange for the rights to broadcast their games. Lastly, it is the television revenue that allows the NCAA and the professional leagues in the U.S. to put the best possible product on the field or the court for the fans to enjoy. For example, CBS/Turner are paying the NCAA $10.8 billion for the broadcasting rights for March Madness, a deal that started in 2011 and will run through 2024.
With that, here is a look at which postseason sporting events brought in the most advertising revenue in 2014.
6. NHL Playoffs — $137 million
The 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs were the fourth most-watched National Hockey League postseason since viewership data became available in 1994. The 2014 NHL postseason ran from April 16 to June 13 and included 93 games. Of those 93 games, 46 were decided by one goal, and 26 went into overtime. The Stanley Cup Finals matched up two teams from major media markets in the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings, with the Kings going on to win the second Stanley Cup in franchise history.
5. NCAA Football Bowl Games — $201 million
The 2013-14 college football postseason ran from December 21, 2013 through January 6, 2014. Each bowl game had an average of 5.6 million viewers, while the five Bowl Championship Series bowl games each had an average of 16.7 million viewers. The BCS Championship Game between Auburn and Florida State had a final household rating of 14.4 with 25.6 million viewers, which was the fourth lowest of all time. The final year of the BCS may have been a bit of a disappointment as far as television ratings go, but the NCAA was still able to pull in over $200 million in advertising revenue in just over two weeks.
4. Major League Baseball Playoffs — $360 million
The 2014 MLB Playoffs actually brought in significantly less advertising revenue than the 2013 MLB Playoffs. A large part of the dip can be attributed to the teams playing in the World Series. In 2013, the Boston Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the Fall Classic. The Red Sox and Cardinals both have massive national followings. In 2014, the World Series was a matchup of the San Francisco Giants, and the small market Kansas City Royals. The Giants went on to win, but outside of Madison Bumgarner, there wasn’t a lot of star-power to attract viewership and advertisers. When looking at the advertising revenue figures for the MLB Playoffs through the years, there is a significant increase in any year where the Red Sox, Cardinals, New York Yankees, or Chicago Cubs are in the field.
3. NBA Playoffs — $875 million
The 2014 NBA Playoffs ran from April 19 to June 15 and featured a total of 89 games. Like the MLB Playoffs, the NBA saw a slight decrease in total advertising revenue from 2013 to 2014. The 2014 NBA Finals were a matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat. The Spurs won their fifth NBA title in dominant fashion, and that series ended up being LeBron James’s last games in a Heat uniform. The 2015 NBA Playoffs have the potential to be even more profitable for the league with several new faces emerging as MVP candidates, and more parity throughout the league than ever before.
2. NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament — $1.134 billion
The 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament consisted of 65 games that spanned just over three weeks from March 18 to April 7. March Madness is arguably the most exciting three weeks of the year for sports fans, so it should come as no surprise that advertisers were willing to pay $1.493 million per 30-second commercial during the tournament’s championship game. The Big Dance is right on the heels of the most dominant sporting enterprise in the country in terms of advertising revenue, which is a fact that should not change anytime soon.
1. NFL Playoffs — $1.233 billion
The National Football League’s Playoffs and Super Bowl combine to be the most profitable postseason sporting event in the country. Whether it’s their attendance figures, television ratings and viewership, merchandise sales, or advertising revenue, the NFL is clearly the king of the sporting world in the United States. Roughly 111.5 million people watched Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014, giving the league the ability to charge $4.2 million per 30-second commercial during their championship game. If that weren’t astonishing enough, the NFL brought in their total advertising revenue in only 11 games, which was a small fraction of the total number of games their competition had to work with.
All advertising revenue data courtesy of Kantar Media.