April 15, 2021

Fox Contest Offers 30-Second Super Bowl Pregame Ad as a Prize

The contest is scheduled to be announced Friday by the Fox Sports Media Group, which is part of 21st Century Fox; Fox Broadcasting will present Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, 2014. The tentative name for the contest is the Social Bowl, although there is already a Web site by that name that tracks the effectiveness of Super Bowl advertising in building value for brands.

The contest is centered on an offer to give away a commercial on Super Bowl Sunday — not during the game, which is already about 95 percent sold, with only a “handful” of 30-second spots in the commercial inventory still available, Fox Sports Media Group executives say. Rather, the prize is a 30-second commercial to be broadcast at around 5 p.m. Eastern Time during the pregame show, valued at about $850,000. (The price tag on a 30-second commercial during the game is being estimated at $4 million.)

Marketers will be able to participate in the contest by submitting proposed commercials to the Fox Sports Media Group and paying an entry fee of $150,000. Football fans, ad fans and anyone with access to social media will then vote on which potential spot they believe is Super Bowl Sunday-worthy after watching the entries on online platforms like the Fox Sports Web site or YouTube.

The Fox Sports Media Group plans to promote the voting with an extensive campaign in social media outlets that is scheduled to begin on the first weekend in January. “We’ll be putting a ton of media behind it,” said Neil Mulcahy, executive vice president for sales at the Fox Sports Media Group, a ton being “a few million dollars.”

A winner of the contest will be named close to or on game day; the executives have not decided yet on a date.

“What this is, is a social experiment,” Mr. Mulcahy said, spurred by the fact that in the last few years the hoopla surrounding who is buying ads on Super Bowl Sunday has begun to build earlier and earlier.

“It’s definitely a trend we’ve noticed,” he said, and it is being fed by the ability of advertisers to use social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs to provide previews of their Super Bowl Sunday ads before Super Bowl Sunday.

Pete Vlastelica, senior vice president for digital at the Fox Sports Media Group, estimated that for Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, 2013, “thanks to the Internet, something like 40 percent of the in-game advertisers were teasing, leaking or running their whole spots” ahead of the game.

Mr. Mulcahy credited Mr. Vlastelica with coming up with the idea for the contest. Mr. Vlastelica said he envisioned the contest as a way to “open to a much larger group of brands the opportunity to advertise on Super Bowl Sunday,” particularly the kinds of “independent, smaller brands that don’t think of participating in the run-up to the Super Bowl because it is beyond their reach.”

There will be, however, nothing to prevent large marketers from submitting entries in the contest. “It will be interesting to see who wins,” Mr. Vlastelica said, “a major brand or a brand you’ve never heard of.”

There will also be prizes in addition to the free commercial time, he added, in categories like funniest commercial or “most viral.”

The commercials to be submitted in the contest must meet broadcast acceptability standards, Mr. Vlastelica and Mr. Mulcahy said, as well as the standards for advertising during National Football League games.

In other words, Mr. Mulcahy said, laughing, “Keep it clean.”

Mr. Mulcahy said he believed that the remaining commercial time in the game, five or so 30-second time slots, would be sold by mid-October. “The last time we had the Super Bowl, they were sold out by Thanksgiving,” he added.

For Super Bowl XLVII seven months ago, which was broadcast by CBS, CBS executives announced about a month before the game was played that they had completed selling all the commercial time in the game.

In another sign of how early the Super Bowl Sunday drum-banging now starts, several marketers have already announced that they plan to buy commercial time during Super Bowl XLVIII, including Anheuser-Busch, Chevrolet, Dannon Oikos yogurt, Hyundai Motor America and Intuit.

The next Super Bowl may become known as the contest Super Bowl. In addition to the Fox Sports Media Group contest, the NFL Films unit of the National Football League introduced on Thursday night a contest called Together We Make Football — Your Story, centered on a microsite, or special Web site, togetherwemakefootball.com.

The NFL Films contest asks, “Why do you love football?” and invites fans to submit, through Nov. 5, video clips of up to five minutes, or essays of up to 1,000 words, that answer the question. A panel is to select 10 finalists from among the entries, whose submissions will be turned into shorts by NFL Films and run during games played in December.

Five winners from among the finalists will be selected by the public through votes on the microsite and announced during the playoffs. The winners will receive trips to the game and their stories will be featured in a documentary produced by NFL Films.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/21/business/media/fox-contest-offers-30-second-super-bowl-pregame-ad-as-a-prize.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

New York Times Company to Pay a 4-Cent Dividend

The company’s board voted to approve a dividend of 4 cents a share to all shareholders of record as of Oct. 9, 2013. It will be paid on Oct. 24, the week before The Times announces its third-quarter earnings. The Times has not paid a dividend since Dec. 14, 2008.

The dividend, which applies to both Class A and Class B shares, will cost the company roughly $24 million a year.

In a statement, Mark Thompson, president and chief executive of The Times, said that the board had concluded “that the strength of the balance sheet justified the restoration of a dividend.”

But Mr. Thompson warned that the company would remain cautious in its financial strategy.

“Given the expectation of continued volatility in advertising revenue and the fact that our growth strategy is at an early stage of development, we will maintain a prudent view of both the balance sheet and free cash flow,” he said.

During recent earnings calls, analysts have repeatedly asked Times executives to issue a dividend. In the first quarter of 2013, analysts noted that there was a sell-off of the company’s stock after management announced it would not issue a dividend because of concern about the financial state of the media industry. But in August, The Times reported that it had swung to a profit from stronger circulation revenue and lower operating costs.

John Janedis, an analyst with UBS, said that it made sense for The Times to issue a dividend now because the company was selling its final noncore asset, The New England Media Group, which includes The Boston Globe. After that sale closes next month, The Times will be able to focus exclusively on building its core brand, The New York Times.

“You basically have a clean balance sheet, you have free cash flow at the company,” Mr. Janedis said. He added that a dividend also made sense “given how much the company has slimmed down in terms of assets.”

Mr. Janedis estimated that The Times could afford to pay shareholders the dividend despite the media industry’s financial challenges.

“Even if the ad market weakens further and there is virtually zero return on their growth initiatives, they can easily fund the dividend if not increase it,” Mr. Janedis said.

In its last earnings report, The Times reported that, as of June 30, it had cash and securities totaling about $918 million.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/business/media/new-york-times-company-to-start-paying-dividend.html?partner=rss&emc=rss