Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Barack Obama and Timothy Geithner can tell us things are getting better until they are blue in the face, the facts on the ground, as we see them, continue to make us skeptical. As you know, the Clarion Content is fascinated by sports, and not simply for their own sake, but for what they communicate about a culture and its society. As such, we have been harping on for months that American sport is about to get its comeuppance, because American society hasn't seen economic turbulence like this is seventy years or more. And sports for all its claims to centrality in American life, has in places and regions less tenuous holds. There are teams in both the NBA and NHL that are here today, but that will be gone in less than five years. Heck, there might even be one or two of those in the golden goose, the NFL. The new American pastime has been the one impregnable sports fortress, a revenue generator non-parallel for the media empires and advertisers. But in this unpredictable economic climate, perhaps one presaging the fall of a hegemon, even the heretofore unassailable walls can be vulnerable.
A new item we ran across today underlined that premise. CBS reported that for only the second time since 1967, Super Bowl ads were generating less revenue this year than last. Forty-three Super Bowls, across vagaries that included the Vietnam War, stagflation, the oil embargo, the Carter years, the first Gulf War, 9/11, the second Gulf War, Katrina, and only once before has the Super Bowl's ad revenue declined. Ads are going for anywhere from 7% to 16% less than they were for last year's telecast. Pepsi won't place an ad for the first time in twenty-three years. Other big regulars, Federal Express and General Motors quit placing ads last year.
As our sources at Market Watch put it, "Once the Super Bowl begins to show signs of softening and weakness, nobody [in sports] should feel safe."