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Volume 26 No. 207
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Fox' Early Super Bowl Sellout Marks Victory For Ad Sales Team

Fox Sports' early sellout of its available commercial inventory for Super Bowl LIV "marks a victory" for the network, which has "bet more heavily on sports programming since selling the bulk of its cable-and-studio assets to Walt Disney" for $71.3B, according to Brian Steinberg of VARIETY. Fox Sports' Super Bowl process has been "supervised by a new ad-sales team," led by Exec VP/Sports Sales Seth Winter, a veteran of NBC Sports and its efforts to sell the Olympics and past Super Bowls to advertisers. Winter, who came on board earlier this year, reports to President of Ad Sales Marianne Gambelli, another former NBC exec who was "named to lead Fox Corp. ad sales" in '18. To "convince advertisers to buy the big event," Winter and his team "provided clients with data that showed audience levels in each minute of past games." He said that this strategy "helped sponsors understand what sort of impact different game positions might have." Steinberg notes Fox also "made clear that it had no intentions of lowering prices as the game drew closer." Winter: "We were never going to fire-sale the inventory, so I think people realized that waiting around was going to be to their detriment, not their benefit" (VARIETY.com, 11/25).

FINISHING STRONG: Winter said less than two weeks ago that the game was "already 78% sold out," with only 17 of Fox’ 77 in-game spots "still up for grabs." Correspondingly, he said the market picked up “incredibly” due to “the very real possibility that brands would be shut out if they didn’t move quickly." Winter: “I was always confident that we’d be sold out, but I thought we would drift into January. The fact we sold out almost a week before Thanksgiving was a surprise to all of us.” ADWEEK's Jason Lynch notes while in-game inventory is sold out, there are "other options for brands who still want to be a part of Super Bowl Sunday on Fox." Winter said the break leading into the game is “about 50% sold,” with just a few units remaining, while the same goes for the break leading out of the game. More Winter: “We have sufficient inventory from 6 (pm) to kickoff. We have a little bit of inventory post-gun (first break after the end of the game). There is pre- and post-game inventory where they can invest in a significant rating.” Winter added that no six-second ads "were sold" thus far (ADWEEK.com, 11/25). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Suzanne Vranica writes in an "age of audience fragmentation, companies have few such opportunities to reach large numbers of viewers in a single place." Super Bowl LIIi averaged 100.7 million viewers across CBS’ TV and digital platforms, and although the game was the "least-watched Super Bowl" since '09, it "still dwarfed all other televised events" for the year (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/25).