SBD/Issue 234/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

CBS, NBC Experience Slow Ad Sales Market For Super Bowl, Olympics

The advertising market is "moving at a glacial pace for two of the biggest ticket items of 2010 -- Super Bowl XLIV and the Winter Olympics," according to Ourand & Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. CBS and NBC still have "considerable inventory left to sell" with the events less than six months away, and ad buyers "seem content to wait until much closer to the events to make their buys." While NBC reportedly is "holding the line on its pricing for the Olympics," ad buyers said that CBS is "more flexible, with the average cost of an A-position 30-second spot during the Super Bowl dropping from the $3[M] that NBC pulled last year." Neither CBS nor NBC would say "how much inventory remains available," but several ad execs indicated that the marketplace is "slower than ever." NBC is "experiencing a tougher market with the Winter Olympics from Vancouver, which fall in the middle of the February sweeps," and the network's sales team "has been active over the summer, hitting the street and taking meetings." But NBC's efforts to "fill those slots have been hindered by a lack of participation from" USOC and IOC corporate partners. Meanwhile, CBS is "in a slightly better position with the Super Bowl than NBC is with the Olympics," as the net has Anheuser-Busch's "annual commitment for 10 in-game spots, and it has sold sponsorships for at least two hours of the game's pregame show" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/24 issue).

NFL PRICING DOWN SLIGHTLY: MEDIAPOST's Wayne Friedman reported the NFL's TV ad sales "continues to be a late-moving and fragile marketplace, with most of the bigger agencies yet to do deals with CBS, Fox and NBC." While NFL pricing "has not declined as much as many broadcast and cable prime-time shows," media execs said that CPM pricing is "down anywhere from 3% to 4% versus a year ago." Media execs estimated that NFL unit pricing "for top games on CBS and Fox" will be around $275,000-300,000 and more for a 30-second spot this year; "upwards of $400,000 and more for NBC; and about $300,000 and more on ESPN." One media agency exec said that ESPN "is well sold for 'Monday Night Football' this year -- it has either closed or is near closing virtually 90% of its inventory." However, Friedman noted ESPN "runs fewer commercials than the broadcasts networks' NFL games -- just 46 30-second commercial units." Meanwhile, one "thorny issue still surrounds this year's deal-making: That of commercial ratings, so-called C3 guarantees -- commercial ratings plus three days of DVR playback." TV advertisers "want them; NFL television networks have been largely opposed" (, 8/21).

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