The Top Industry Spenders of the 2016 NFL Season

Throughout the 2016 NFL Season, including playoffs through the NFC and AFC championship games, 706 brands have run 2,901 spots 39,877 times across NFL broadcasts, for a total estimated media spend of $4.2 Billion. These brands represent 144 Industries, which spread their spots across 7 networks [CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, NFL Network, ABC & ESPN Deportes].  The top 10 Industries account for more than half of this spend.

Industries Year-Over-Year

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 6.32.51 AM

2016 Est. Spend and 2015 Est. Spend each includes playoffs through the NFC and AFC championship games.

Top Spenders by Industry


Out of the 31 Automotive brands that aired commercials during NFL programming, Chevrolet spent the most on placements throughout the 2016-17 NFL Season, accounting for 11.1% of the Industry’s spend, or $99.6 million. In turn, this spend generated nearly 1.1 billion TV ad impressions for the brand, averaging a view rate of 83.4%. However, second-place spender Toyota, which accounted for 10.8% of the Industry’s spend, was the most-seen brand in the category, earning nearly 1.4 billion TV ad impressions, with an average view rate of 89.6%, well above the industry’s average of 81.8%.


Still, automakers’ total spend decreased by over $11 million overall. This was due in large part to major decreases by both Nissan and Ford from 2015 to 2016. The former spent $37 million less this season vs. last, while the latter dropped about $11 million year over year. Despite the 10- to 20-percent increases for many of the other top automaker brands, the near-$50 million combined drop from two of the top four on the 2015 list was enough to sink spending a modest amount overall.


While Ford still managed to remain among the top brands in terms of audience (they finished second behind Toyota both years), NIssan fell from third in 2015 to 15th in 2016. The brand’s 12-position drop was the largest of all automakers year over year in terms of impressions. BMW was the direct beneficiary of Nissan’s decrease, as the only newcomer on the top-10 impressions list for 2016. They also had the steepest rise, from 16th in 2015 to 8th this year. Jaguar had the largest AVR fall from one year to the next, going from first (98% in 2015) to 27th (69% in 2016). Volvo had the biggest AVR rise from 2015 to 2016, jumping from virtually non-existent on three ads the first year to 92.87% on 20 spots in year 2.


Wireless Providers

Of the 9 Wireless providers that ran commercials during the 2016-17 NFL season, Verizon was the clear winner in terms of spend, accounting for $185.4 million, or 54.8%, of the Industry’s entire spend. The brand was far and away the most seen Wireless brand, accounting for 2.4 Billion of the Industry’s 5.9 Billion TV ad impressions. Although only generating an average view rate of 79.42%, the brand crushed it’s nearest competitor, T-Mobile, which maintained an average view rate of 74.96% on 615 million TV ad impressions during NFL programming.


Verizon’s spending increase of nearly 40% was a big part of wireless providers’ overall rise on the list. But despite the boost in ad dollars  and spots (Verizon ran 600 more total ads during NFL programming in 2016 vs. 2015), the brand actually received about 350 million less impressions year over year. AVR tells part of the story there, as Verizon spots experienced a 9% decrease year over year as well. Completion rates also dropped for Verizon ads during the 2016 season. While nearly 80% of NFL viewers saw the spots in 2015, that number dropped to 60% for 2016.


Insurance Companies

While 14 Insurance brands ran commercials during the 2016-17 NFL season, 3 brands alone accounted for over 75% of the Industry’s entire spend – GEICO (37.19%), State Farm (19.9%), and Nationwide Insurance (19.62%). GEICO ran 30 spots 715 times during this period, accounting for $100.4 million of the Industry’s spend and generating 1.3 Billion TV Ad impressions.


Insurance brands exhibited a moderate spending increase year over year, with the lion’s share of that being attributable to GEICO and State Farm upping their combined spend by a total of $25 million. GEICO ran nearly three times as many spots in 2016 (704) as they did in 2015 (240), yet failed to really make a larger impression on audiences by doing so. The $17 million increase for that brand alone actually corresponded with a 100 million-impression drop and a minimal dip in AVR.

State Farm saw a similar inverse correlation between spend and spots, versus resulting impressions. Their $8 million increase saw impressions cut in half (over 1.2 billion down to 650 million) and a 5-percent dip in AVR as well.


Fast Food

In total, 19 fast food brands aired spots during the 2016-17 NFL season, totaling over $264 million in estimated spend. Subway (27%) and McDonald’s (23%) alone accounted for half of that number, far outpacing the rest of the top five, Burger King, Taco Bell and KFC (with the latter two both being owned by parent company YUM! Brands). Fast food ads were viewed far more by males (59.74%) than females (40.26%), and overall, accounted for 5,616,788,964 impressions.


Fast food brands dropped their collective investment by about $13 million over the course of the season — a move largely guided by McDonald’s and its $27 million decrease in spend year over year. The burger giant saw minimal change in AVR with the move, though it did drop about 1 billion audience impressions in the process. Subway was happy to fill the void, jumping from 3rd to 1st in terms of impressions share of voice.  


Mobile Devices

Though just four different mobile device manufacturers ran ads during the 2016-17 NFL season, they still accounted for a combined spend of nearly $233 million. It was far from an equitable split, however, as Apple (46.26%) and Samsung (37.04%) took up the lion’s share of the market spend. Apple’s share was also split 9-to-1 between the iPhone and Apple Watch.  In fact, of the top 10 mobile device spots in terms of audience impressions, Apple and Samsung accounted for every one (seven for Apple, three for Samsung). Google and LG rounded out the group.


Apple clearly guided the industry’s astronomical growth, nearly doubling its investment in iPhone advertising. Though Samsung stayed largely flat in terms of spending, Google also increased its own year over year spend by about $15 million.
The extra dollars failed to engage viewers more, however. Mobile device ads saw a slight dip in AVR from 2015 to 2016, and total impressions fell by nearly 1 billion. Surprisingly, those drops resulted in zero change in terms of completion rates for viewers. Those stayed stagnant at about 83%.