SBJ/June 25-July 1, 2012/Media

CBS: Super Bowl already 80% sold

The NFL marketplace is showing no signs of softening with Super Bowl and regular-season ad sales attracting record-high prices.

CBS has sold 80 percent of the Super Bowl’s game inventory and is moving into the summer with a handful of spots left to sell. Sources say CBS is asking a record-high $3.8 million per 30-second spot for the game, which has set U.S. television viewership records for the past three years.

CBS’s $3.8 million rate for a 30-second Super Bowl spot represents a nearly 9 percent increase from last year. CBS has already sold 80 percent of the  game inventory.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Just three weeks ago, CBS was saying that the game was 50 percent sold, so the latest figure shows a lot of inventory moved in the ensuing weeks.

“The game has moved early,” said John Bogusz, executive vice president of sales and marketing for CBS Sports. “We’re certainly well ahead of where we were three years ago [the last time CBS carried the game].“

The pace of CBS’s ad sales offers further evidence that the Super Bowl selling season has moved earlier than ever. Three years ago, for example, CBS went into September with a lot of inventory left to sell. But for the past three years, networks had completed the bulk of their ad sales in early summer, just after the upfront selling season.

CBS would not identify advertisers who have bought spots. A-B has a long-term deal for the game that includes around 10 spots. Bogusz said the auto category has been strong despite GM’s decision to not advertise in the game. Bogusz also pointed to film studios and beverages as strong categories.

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CBS’s $3.8 million rate marks a nearly 9 percent increase from last year, when NBC sold the game for $3.5 million per 30-second spot, according to several advertising executives — both buyers and sellers — with knowledge of the rate.

The $3.8 million is generally the price paid for one 30-second TV ad during the game. Most advertisers buy packages and schedules across the network to bring that rate down. CBS has been active in selling packages throughout its prime time, sources said.

Overall, NFL ad sales are steady for the networks’ regular season. CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC say they are selling at a similar pace as last year when sales were high despite the league’s offseason work stoppage. This year, sources say the networks are commanding increases in the high single digits.

All of the networks said they were in the middle of cutting deals last week and were not able to say how much of their schedule was sold. CBS’s Bogusz said he expected his network’s Sunday afternoon schedule to be 80 percent sold by the middle of July.

“It’s going to be a healthy market. We just need to figure out a number that works for all.”
Jeremy Carey,
U.S. director for Optimum Sports
Photo by: KRISTINA PAUMEN / LIMELIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
“It’s going to be a healthy market,” said Jeremy Carey, U.S. director for Optimum Sports, who was finalizing NFL deals for several of his clients last week. “We just need to figure out a number that works for all.”

That number generally represents an increase in the mid to high single digits, sources said, and almost all of the schedules involve digital media.

NBC walked into the offseason with nearly 50 percent of its “Sunday Night Football” schedule already sold, thanks to the multiyear deals that the network sold.

For example, Toyota is returning as a halftime sponsor and Wendy’s as a postgame sponsor as part of multiyear deals.

Seth Winter, executive vice president of sales and marketing for the NBC Sports Group, said interest in the network’s first prime-time Thanksgiving Day game has been high despite a cost that Winter has previously said would approach $1 million per 30-second spot, putting it on par with NFL playoff games.

“The marketplace has been moving since February,” Winter said.

Fox executives said the network was in the middle of negotiations with several advertisers last week, and that it had seen a lot of interest in the quick-service-restaurant, auto and electronics categories.

“Our volume is strong,” said Neil Mulcahy, Fox Sports’ executive vice president of advertising sales. “The NFL delivers such huge audiences.”

ESPN delivered the same message. “The marketplace is strong, and we’re seeing demand for the NFL,” an ESPN spokesperson said.
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