Unlike WJZ, which has the rights to all Ravens playoff games because of its affiliation with CBS, the Ravens' regular radio homes, 98 Rock and WBAL, had to pay an extra rights fee to secure the AFC championship and Super Bowl, according to Dave Hill, program director for both stations. He would not say whether the stations charge more for ads during the playoffs but did say regular partners receive preference when trying to buy time.
While developing broadcast commercials can be time-consuming and expensive, companies with smaller budgets can develop print campaigns in only a few days, Skandalis said. The Baltimore Sun has printed special sections or added pages in past years as a way to capitalize on the Ravens and Orioles appearing in the playoffs.
"The Sun's advertising partners are very enthusiastic about the Ravens and the opportunity to take advantage of the tremendous reader interest in our print and digital coverage," said Judy Berman, The Sun's senior vice president of sales and marketing.
Whether the return on investment is worth the soaring prices for TV ads depends on how well an advertiser can decipher who makes up the audience and then find a way to reach them, said Roland Rust, a University of Maryland business professor. While the Super Bowl is widely recognized as reaching "everyone," he said, the AFC championship doesn't have quite the same effect.
"It's not going to be just heavy-duty truck companies and beer companies anymore," he said. "But it has still got to be a company making a smart decision about reaching people and identifying with the event."
Now that the use of recording devices and the practice of watching television shows online has allowed viewers to skip commercials, live sporting events offer a rare opportunity to reach a captive crowd.
"Anytime you can get 50 percent of people in an area to tune in to something going on live, it is premium programming," Burch said. "There's going to be some up charge, and for most companies, it will be worth it."