Disney hails virtual NFL draft as advertisers flock to ESPN and ABC
The Walt Disney Corporation, whose ESPN and ABC television networks will broadcast American football's 2020 NFL draft, said it has drawn in the most diverse array of advertisers in its history airing the annual event.
The draft starts today and runs to 25 April.
Disney said it has signed more than 100 brands to advertise during the three-day event, including more than 60 of which are involved for the first time.
The flood of advertisers has led to a double-digit percentage increase in advertising revenue, with key categories including computers, insurance, gardening and media.
Major sponsors include home improvement retailer Lowe’s, which is the presenting sponsor for coverage on both ESPN and the NFL Network, telecommunications giant Verizon, pizza chain Pizza Hut and beverage brand Bud Light Seltzer.
James Minnich, vice-president of revenue yield management at Disney Advertising Sales, told Reuters: “It’s unprecedented times unfortunately for the market but fortunately for this particular event, demand is stronger than ever. We’ve seen, frankly, more demand than we have availability due to the pause in live sports.
“There’s a certain clientele that’s attracted to live events like this and this is the first large one of its kind.”
Minnich added he expects the event to draw in a record number of viewers due to the absence of live sport.
The demand for advertising slots has extended beyond traditional broadcast, with advertising buyers on social media platforms also pursuing the draft.
Amy Rumpler, vice-president of paid social at ad buyer Centro, said Google has been offering sponsorship opportunities for the NFL and NFL Network channels on YouTube.
She said: “A lot of advertisers who were heavily invested in sports sponsorships before now are trying to figure out where to put those dollars. The NFL draft is basically the only sporting event happening right now.”
YouTube was pricing the placements at around $250,000 – double the usual cost of “premium takeover” ads, according to Reuters.
This year’s draft is taking place virtually due to social distancing rules brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Roger Goodell, the NFL’s commissioner, will announce picks from his home in New York, and has ordered club personnel to work the draft from their homes and communicate with each other and the league by telephone or internet.
Seth Markman, ESPN’s production executive, said the virtual format, and the need to combine roughly 180 different video feeds from participants scattered around the country, has led to “the most complicated event that I’ve personally been involved with.”