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SmackDown picks up a presenting sponsor as Fox touts early ad sales success

WWE on Fox’s Twitter

The lead item in Ad Age’s story on Fox’s Friday Night SmackDown is that Progressive Insurance has signed on as the presenting sponsor of WWE’s return to the broadcast airwaves. But that’s just the start of a glowing assessment of how the sports entertainment property is playing with advertisers ahead of its premiere next Friday (Oct. 4). Of course, the main quoted source in the piece is the Fox Sports Executive Vice-President in charge of ad sales, so it would be really shocking if it was negative. But the facts do sound good.

Progressive branding will be integrated into the two hour show, and “play a significant role” in what the insurance company is buying from Fox & WWE. “In-show features” for Progressive and other “immersive sponsorships” are being worked on. Big sponsors will “have a significant presence in the show that goes beyond paid units,” according to Seth Winter, the Fox EVP interviewed by Ad Age.

Other brands who are being lured in with the promise of lots of attention from the coveted 18 - 49 demographic are Pizza Hut, Boost Mobile, Snickers and Paramount (expect lots of ads for Will Smith’s Gemini Man and John Cena’s Playing with Fire on early Friday Night SmackDown episodes). Fox’s sales pitch is that wrestling sports entertainment on Fridays allows them to control fall weekends - the time of year research says people spend the most money - with NFL on Thursdays & Sunday, college football on Saturdays, and playoff baseball mixed in throughout.

Younger viewers are key, though. Winter wouldn’t give Ad Age the rating Fox is promising advertisers for SmackDown with the 18 - 49 demo, but the publication estimates it would be reasonable for the network to be shooting for 1.0 (the blue brand has been floating around a .6 on USA Tuesdays lately).

Interesting that as new competitor AEW is talking up their PG-14 rating, WWE touts their move to PG as key to attracting more advertising dollars. Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon is also presented as being crucial to explaining the business to leery companies. Winter says Fox has landed 20 sponsors who never advertised on a wrestling program before.

As mentioned above - it all sounds good. We’ll see how SmackDown delivers for Fox, Progressive, and others stating next week.

The Ad Age article has a lot more, including talk of CPM and GRP and other industry terms that went over my head. Check it out here.

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