With America's beloved NFL in doubt of having a 2011 season, many are wondering if the loss of advertising revenue from not airing games will have a significant impact on networks' bottom lines. Not so, says ESPN.
Indeed the sports broadcaster believes something else will fill the sports-watching vacuum. "We can only say that if there is a work stoppage of even significant length, the impact to our bottom line should be negligible," said Bob Iger, CEO at ESPN parent Disney. "That in part comes from a belief at ESPN that if here is a loss of NFL games, there will be a mad dash for male demos in other sports, particularly college football, where ESPN has almost 300 games across its platform, including ABC."
Iger added that what is important is that ESPN can still deliver the male demographic that advertisers crave--it doesn't really matter which vehicle it uses to do so.
"We will see some extremely, extremely improved pricing for ESPN's college football games. CPMs will be up, rates will be up," Iger said. "They'll probably expand their format so that they'll add more inventory in order to take advantage of that. So the significant increases we'll see not just in college football but in other ESPN programming will offset, at least somewhat, the impact of a [lockout]."
The NFL and its Players Association are in a lock-out mode after negotiations over salary increases broke down earlier this year. It's widely believed that everyone will come back to the table and that the NFL season will happen after all, considering the amount of money that stands to be lost across stakeholders, including the non-sports networks that rely on Monday Night and Sunday Night football revenue, stadium owners, locla businesses in the NFL cities and many, many others.