Disney TV Networks Cashing In On Strong NFL Draft Ad Sales

    • Over 100 brands will advertise during three days of TV coverage on ABC, ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
    • Disney TV networks have secured 40 new advertisers, including Snickers, Subway and Volkswagen.

The Walt Disney Co. and the National Football League are poised to cash in on strong advertising demand for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Disney has sold out commercial time for all three days of TV coverage beginning on Thursday night across ABC, ESPN and ESPN Deportes, according to James Minnich, a senior vice president for Disney Advertising Sales. 

“I thought last year we had a record-breaking year from an advertising standpoint. And this year eclipsed it,” Minnich said.

More than 100 brands have purchased ads for the NFL’s biggest off-season event. Disney secured 40 new advertisers this year, including Snickers, Subway and Volkswagen.

With the sports media world recovering from the global pandemic, Disney has seen a surge of marketing spending from several sectors, including quick-serve restaurants, automotive, technology, telecommunications, financial services, travel, and home improvement. 

Disney declined to comment on ad prices or revenues. MediaRadar estimated Round 1 spots on Thursday night averaged $250,000 in 2020 compared to $5.5 million for the same ad time during the Super Bowl. 

Across the board, this year’s NFL Draft could see a 15% in total ad revenue, said MediaRadar. 

Among the different networks, ESPN attracted the highest ad rates last year, according to the Standard Media Index. 

ESPN invented the draft as a TV property, televising the annual event since 1980. ESPN drew $67,047 per 30-second spot in 2020.

Among brands title-sponsoring specific draft segments on Disney’s coverage this weekend:

  • Courtyard by Marriott (ESPN).
  • Home Depot (ABC).
  • Zip Recruiter (NFL Draft Countdown).
  • Snickers (in-person player interviews).
  • Subway (Trade Alert).
  • Pizza Hut (Draft Moment). 
  • Volkswagen (Draft ID).

This year’s quarterback-heavy draft will likely draw big TV ratings. Thursday’s breaking news from Adam Schefter reporting that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t want to return to the Green Bay Packers should drive even more interest, Minnich added.

“That could really accentuate and add to the audience.”

On the league side, sponsors on NFL Network and other league properties will include: Bud Light, Verizon, Nationwide, Lowe’s, Subway, Bose, and Oakley.

Last year’s “virtual” draft was the most-watched in history, reaching more than 55 million viewers across ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes and NFL Network.