In The News

New Title Game Sponsorship Could Cost Up To $35 Million

Adweek, January 07, 2013

By Anthony Crupi

With just hours to go before No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama clash in the BCS National Championship Game, researchers are already eyeing the inherent value in sponsoring the new NCAA Div. I football title game.

According to ImageTrack, a service launched by WPP Group siblings IEG Consulting and Kantar Media, a client looking to lay claim to the title sponsorship of the first championship game under the new four-team playoff format can expect to fork over some $35 million for the privilege.

Under the 15-year-old current BCS system, the title sponsors of the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl are granted the rights to the championship game once every four years. For example, this time around, Discover has the honors, as the Notre Dame-Alabama showdown will kickoff in Miami's Sun Life Stadium. (Discover is also the title sponsor of the Orange Bowl).

Per IEG estimates, each of the four BCS Bowl Game sponsors (Discover, Allstate, Tostitos and Vizio) spends about $15 million to $20 million per year on the opportunity to align their brands with the biggest college football games of the season.

The new playoff system kicks in after the 2014 campaign, with the playoff games tentatively set for New Year’s Day 2015 and the championship game to follow on Jan. 15.

As has been the case since 2011, ESPN will carry college football’s championship game. In November, the sports giant signed a 12-year, $7.3 billion deal to secure the media rights to the two playoff games and the title tilt.

According to Jim Andrews, svp of content strategy at IEG, the $35 million ESPN is likely to command for a title-game sponsorship also would include a season-long media buy across the network’s roster of regular-season college football programming.

“Obviously, we’re anticipating a great deal of interest in that first championship game,” Andrews said, adding that the brand exposure would be well-nigh unprecedented for a collegiate sports sponsor. “The ESPN sales guys are going to position this as a first and only opportunity to be the title sponsor of a true national championship—and they will put a premium in that.”

Andrews estimates that the 2012 BCS Championship Game (Auburn-LSU) generated some $28 million in value for Allstate. The insurance company would have had to pony up nearly four times that amount (or $104.1 million) to earn the same magnitude in brand exposire via traditional 30-second ad buys.

“Allstate paid $17.5 million in 2012 to sponsor the Sugar Bowl and BCS Championship Game,” Andrews said, adding that the estimated asking price for the 2015 title game would effectively double that amount.

As for tonight’s winner-take-all battle between the Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide, it would appear that only a blowout could stand in the way of ESPN setting an all-time cable ratings record. Bristol put up the medium’s biggest numbers on Jan. 10, 2011, when its presentation of the Auburn-Oregon game scared up 27.3 million viewers, of which 13.3 million were members of the 18-49 demo.

While ESPN does not comment on pricing, media buyers said 30-second spots packaged with digital opportunities were going for as much as $1 million back in early December.

ESPN’s coverage of the Discover BCS Championship game begins tonight at 8 p.m. EST.

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