SBJ/Feb. 2-8, 2015/Media

CBS price for Super Bowl 50 spot: $5M?

Rate would set record for 30 seconds in game

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Editor’s note: This story has been revised from the print edition.

Super Bowl 50 and ad rates at $5.0 million per 30-second spot? For CBS, there’s a symmetry to those numbers, and that’s what the network is likely to hit the market with, according to several media executives.

The price would be a record high for Super Bowl advertising, and about 10 percent higher than the rate card NBC used for this year’s game.

NBC sold its final in-game spot in the week leading up to this year’s game, saying that it picked up $4.4 million to $4.5 million per 30-second spot. NBC said it sold about 70 in-game units this year.

SBJ Podcast Archive:
From Nov. 3, 2014: John Ourand and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour discuss the NFL's Thursday night package with CBS as well as the NFL's overall ratings strength.

Even though Super Bowl 50 is a full year away, CBS already has been talking to potential advertisers about creating a package around the game, which will be played Feb. 7, 2016, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

A number of units, likely fewer than 15, already has been taken for next year.

Anheuser-Busch has committed to about 10 units as part of a long-term deal the company signed with the NFL that ends after next year’s game. Each 30-second spot is a unit; a 60-second spot is two units. As part of its deal, which was signed in 2010, A-B does not pay the rate card.

CBS also has sold “a few other pieces of business” in the game, but declined to identify the advertisers.

“Our tagline is that we are open for business,” said John Bogusz, CBS Sports’ executive vice president of sales and marketing. Bogusz was in Arizona last weekend and said he had an unusually high number of meetings planned.

In announcing its Super Bowl sellout last week, NBC Sports executives spoke of a challenging ad sales market that kept the automotive category, in particular, from being as active in the game as it has been in the past. Even though NBC was charging record high ad rates, its executives said that price was not an issue for advertisers that opted out of the game.

In addition to autos, NBC said the technology and wireless categories were weaker than expected.

Still, the overall NFL ad market has been stronger than the TV ad market in general, Bogusz said, and he is confident that the excitement surrounding the 50th Super Bowl will help bring more advertisers on board.

“The ad market overall is challenging, but the NFL has been holding up better than other programming,” he said.

Advertisers covet the Super Bowl because of the size of its audience — the biggest on television, by far. Last year’s game drew 112.2 million viewers, making it the most watched show in U.S. TV history.

The ads themselves also have a long life. Companies have started releasing some ads early, and they generate lots of clicks afterward, as well.

CBS executives believe that their Super Bowl ad sales pitch was helped last month when the network secured a one-year extension of its deal to produce “Thursday Night Football.” CBS will pay about $300 million for the Thursday night package. CBS plans to offer Super Bowl ad packages that include both the network’s Thursday night and Sunday afternoon NFL schedules.

“We have more NFL games to package for next year,” Bogusz said. “That gives us more weight in the market.”

CBS also will package some Super Bowl spots with its college football and basketball packages, and it will create packages around its cable channel, CBS Sports Network, and digital outlets.

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