See the little, blue vertical lines on the white, horizontal DVR bar, above? World Cup commercial breaks.
You'll notice that there were three breaks during the midpoint of the game - when there is no game - and two more breaks at the end, during the post-game analysis.
The point is that the World Cup may be the last massive sporting event that doesn't spoil gameplay with excessive commercial breaks. Talk about "the beautiful game!"
So, beautiful, I sent out this tweet in my (nearly) ad-free (nearly) drunken stupor:
"Great thing about #worldcup : the commercials don't ruin the game. Take note baseball, football, and hockey."Shortly thereafter, I got some tweets back asking how an ad instructor could NOT like ads. Could I be an advertising hypocrite - an ad-hater in the guise of an ad instructor?
Could be, but I prefer to think of it as - ahem - a human being being human.
I returned the tweets:
"Ad people love commercials - but ads should complement, not ruin, the content they support. Re: the Lost finale!"Ahh, yes, the Lost finale, which ran half an hour longer than first planned to accommodate the rare interest from advertisers, who paid $900,000 per 30-second pop for a total of 45 minutes of ads.
The result was a cash bonanza for ABC and an incredibly frustrating experience for home viewers, subjected to one ad break after another at every plot turn.
Who's the audience, again?
The not-so-beautiful games
I was primed for the World Cup, having enjoyed the last one four years ago - also gloriously commercial free, the better to enjoy special moments like these:
Winnipeggers are so dying for an NHL team, they've forgotten about all of "those times" you go to the game, and the millionaire players stop skating and start "just hanging around" the bench.
"Why are they just standing around?" I remember asking my dad at a Jet's game.
Oh...yeah. In North America, we build our games around ads, not the other way around, which is why we get ads, ads, and more ads during every possible stoppage in play - including "TV timeouts," game breaks for the sake of ad breaks.
I watched "the last five minutes" of the last NBA game of the season, and it took over half an hour of painful viewing to get to the finish line. Break after break followed by foul shot after foul shot. By the time the Lakers won the game, I could give a rat's arse.
One of the great compliments you regularly hear about soccer is "the game has great flow." It does, as the incredible documentary, "Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait" (he of headbutting fame, above), shows.
The filmmakers followed Zidane - and no-one else - with 17 synchronized high-end cameras in real time during a Spanish Liga Real Madrid versus Villarreal CF game in 2005.
Would the beautiful game still have its beautiful flow, were it regularly interrupted by ad breaks? Unlikely.
Money changes everything
So how does the World Cup make money? In two words: tier sponsorships, as shown in this cool chart I lifted from Business Management (click to enlarge):
Dear Adidas, Coke, Emirates, Hyundai, Sony, Visa: could you spot me $44 million until next payday?
According to Business Management:
"FIFA's decision to rework its World Cup sponsorship strategy has been hugely successful as...the tournament has generated US$1.6 billion between 2007 and 2010 as opposed to US$584 million between 1999 and 2002."You can read about the juicy sponsorship details in Business Management here.
A sponsorship model that works for advertisers, viewers, and the game? Imagine that!
Now, about those vuvuzelas...