Riverdale and college football are officially on the same network—and major brands are ready for it.
Ahead of The CW’s kickoff for its first season of ACC college football this weekend, featuring the Cincinnati Bearcats taking on the Pitt Panthers, the network landed major sponsors such as Verizon, Subaru and Walmart.
For its latest live sports venture, the Nexstar-owned network partnered with Verizon as the presenting sponsor for ACC football, and Subaru will sponsor halftime for the entirety of the season.
The network has added more than 15 new advertisers, driven by sports, and also recently signed Walmart as the season-long sponsor for the ACC Player of the Game.
“All of these advertisers, folks that have never aired on CW entertainment, but your typical big sports players have made the move over to us with the ACC,” Todd Braverman, evp and head of national sales for Nexstar Media Group/The CW, told Adweek. “The response from our advertising partners and agencies and clients has been unbelievable.”
According to Braverman, the strongest categories include QSR, pharmaceutical and telco.
“We’ve had very little direct response,” said Braverman, adding that The CW has sold out all of the fiscal third quarter games with national brands. “We’ve had demand from the national brands to be part of this.”
Football is just the beginning for The CW.
The network has already locked down a halftime sponsor for ACC basketball, and its sports deals have come together quickly.
Though the CW has the exclusive broadcast rights to 50 ACC college football and basketball games through the 2026-27 season—a conference that will soon be joined by SMU, Cal and Stanford in 2024—the network only landed the deal in July, a timeline that would usually exclude it from being sold as part of this year’s TV upfront.
“This came fast and furious at us,” Braverman said. “The benefit we had was a slower moving upfront. If this was one of those quicker moving upfronts, where everything was done by Memorial Day, we might have been in a little bit of trouble.”
The CW officially closed its upfront in August, seeing “basically flat” dollar volume and unit rates up mid-single digits. But the addition of live sports has been a high point for the broadcaster, with sales “surprisingly very good.”