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College Football Playoffs, the new Super Bowl of Advertising?

3 MINUTE READ | January 16, 2015

College Football Playoffs, the new Super Bowl of Advertising?

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Kristen Bennett

Kristen Bennett has written this article. More details coming soon.

The Super Bowl is the mecca of advertising.  It’s a time when brands can be sure TV rating will soar, thus the price-tag for a commercial, a single commercial, can easily go for rates of $4 million-plus.  With the newly instated College Football Playoffs (CFP) taking the NCAA Football world by storm during the 2014-2015 season, there might be a new player in the game.  According to TIME, the 2015 Ohio State vs. Oregon college football championship was shaping up as a Super Bowl in terms of ad prices a few days before the big game with commercials going for up to $1 million a pop.

Following the two record-breaking semi-final games on New Year’s Day, the first College Football National Championship game was hyped up and according to AdAge, was expected to be a boon for ESPN and its advertisers with one media buyer predicting the game could pull an 18 rating. The game did not disappoint.

More people watched Monday night’s College Football Playoff championship game between Ohio State and Oregon than any other program in ESPN’s history (NBC Sports).  The game ended up pulling an 18.5 overnight rating as the Ohio State Buckeyes pulled off the upset over the Oregon Ducks winning the inaugural College Football Playoffs National Championship 42-20.

While it may take years, if it happens at all, for the CFP National Championship to reach levels akin to that of the Super Bowl in that during the Super Bowl, viewers are tuning in for the ads just as much as they are tuning in for the game, the price for a 30-second commercial shot up 20-30% from the prices seen during the 2014 college football title game (AdAge).  According to Taco Bell CMO, Chris Brandt, the CFP National Championship is a unique opportunity because with college football, brands can be a part of it through the college football season, the semi-finals, and two weeks building up the finals while the Super Bowl is only one day.

One unique feature that may separate the CFP National Championship from the Super Bowl is that college football attracts a different audience than the NFL. According to ESPN research, 30% of college football fans don’t necessarily watch the NFL.  Amy Phillips, a spokeswoman for ESPN said that personal alumni connections to schools also create a more balanced male-female fan base than the NFL.

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Although advertising prices during the CFP National Championship may never be on the same level as the Super Bowl, it will be fun to watch how ad prices fluctuate over the next couple years as college football welcomes in the era of the CFP.  See ya later BCS!

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