Common Sense Media Report Reveals One in Six Ads During Football Broadcasts Inappropriate for Kids

Report Urges Parents to Send Message to NFL, Networks

Common Sense Media
Thursday, January 29, 2009

"…I wasn't too happy with ads for erectile-dysfunction drugs popping up every 15 minutes whenever I watched a football game with my daughters in the room."

––Barack Obama
The Audacity of Hope, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – After listening to complaints from scores of fed-up parents, Common Sense Media released a report today on the content of ads shown during NFL broadcasts. The report, Broadcast Dysfunction: Sex, Violence, Alcohol and the NFL, looked at ads in more than 50 games from this season and found it was impossible to watch a single game without coming up against sex, violence, or Viagra®.

"Nearly 5.3 million kids watch football each week,* yet one in six of the ads shown during the broadcasts features content that's wildly inappropriate for kids –– that's every other commercial break, " said founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, James Steyer. "The game of football is great fun for families, but it can be really awkward for parents when they have to explain erectile dysfunction on a Sunday afternoon, or have to dive for the remote during violent promos for network shows. I know we speak for millions of football fans and parents everywhere when we say this situation is really getting ridiculous."

Common Sense Media's report found that 40 percent of the games included ads for Viagra® and Cialis®; nearly 500 of the ads involved  gun fights, explosions, and murders; and more than 75 of the ads featured significant levels of sexuality, including scenes featuring prostitution and strippers. Nearly half (46.5 percent) of the violent or sexual ads were promos by the networks for their own programs. In addition, 300 of the ads were for alcohol.

"Football teaches kids a lot of great lessons –– that's one of the reasons I'm proud to have played in the NFL for 14 years," said Ronnie Lott, former San Francisco 49er and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "But families like mine should be able to watch these games without worrying that their kids will be bombarded with adult ads. There's a time and place for things, and Sunday afternoon isn't it. This is our game, and everyone involved with the NFL should be accountable for making it fun for families."

"The good news is it wouldn't take too much effort to cut out the inappropriate content in commercials," continued Steyer. "With so many families tuning in to so-called ‘America's Game,' we just want the networks and the league to do the right thing. And they can do that with just a little bit of self-restraint and common sense."

Common Sense Media urges parents to make their voices heard to make NFL broadcasts more appropriate for kids:

  • Watch with their kids and find teachable moments among the content. Talk about some of the ads you see together. To help those conversations along, parents can register at Common Sense Media for tips, tricks and resources to help balance their family's media diet.

The study is available here.

For more information or to set up an interview, please use the contact information below.

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is the nation's leading nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the impact of media and entertainment on kids and families. Common Sense Media provides trustworthy ratings and reviews of media and entertainment based on child development criteria created by leading national experts. For more information, visit

Press contact:
Marisa Connolly
[email protected]

*Nielsen Media Research