The moving of the Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers game from the highly coveted Thanksgiving primetime slot to Sunday afternoon could cost NBC tens of millions of dollars in ad sales revenue, Sportico reported.
The decision to move the game from Thursday night — when it would have been the NFL’s lone game in that time slot — to Sunday afternoon was made after an outbreak of COVID-19 swept through the Ravens’ headquarters in Owings Mills, Md. The team has seven players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, which indicates a player has tested positive or is considered a “high-risk” close contact with an infected person.
The Ravens disciplined a strength and conditioning coach who didn’t inform them of COVID-19-related symptoms and had not consistently worn a mask or tracking device, as required by NFL protocols, the team and NFL.com reported.
Last year, NBC generated $70.9 million on its in-game advertising sales of the Thanksgiving night game, which was between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saint, based on an average unit cost of $1.05 million per 30-second spot. The game averaged 20.8 million live TV viewers, which included 7.85 million advertiser-coveted adults between 18 and 49 years old, Sportico reported.
In 2018, NBC’s Thanksgiving night game, also between the Saints and Falcons, averaged 21.7 million viewers and 8.46 million members between the 18 and 49-year-old demographic. It was NBC’s third-highest number since the network began showing the Thanksgiving night game in 2012, Sportico reported.
NBC now likely has to renegotiate its in-game advertising rates since the Ravens-Steelers game is among a dozen games kicking off around the same time during Sunday’s early time slot. While the Ravens-Steelers’ game can be shown nationally by NBC, advertising slots won’t be as valuable since it is competing against so many games. For example, CBS and Fox charge between $100,000 and $300,000 per 30-second advertisement spot, depending on how many markets receive the broadcast, according to Sportico.
The two AFC North games annually between the Ravens (6-4) and Steelers (10-0), who are off to their best start in the franchise’s storied history, are among the NFL’s most anticipated of the season. The teams have combined for eight of the past 10 division titles after the Ravens finished atop the division in each of the past two seasons.
Pittsburgh won the teams’ first meeting of the season, 28-24, in Baltimore on Nov. 1.