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Volume 26 No. 63
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Fox Reaches Earliest Super Bowl Ad Sellout In Years

Fox sold its last in-game Super Bowl spot on Friday -- a 30-second spot to an unknown advertiser -- marking the earliest sellout for the game in years. A week before it sold its final spot, Fox had 17 spots to sell. The network saw a pre-Thanksgiving rush of advertisers that wanted to make sure that they got into the Super Bowl. “I pinch myself because I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Fox Sports Exec VP/Sports Sales Seth Winter. Fox used a sliding scale on rates. Advertisers that bought a one-off ad were charged $5.6M per 30 seconds; advertisers that bought two units were charged $5.5M per 30. The price for a 30-second spot did not drop below $5.2M, Winter said. The quick sellout is not just limited to the Super Bowl, as Fox also has sold out advertising for the NFC Championship game. Winter added the rest of Fox’ postseason inventory is “well sold.” Fox now will start selling the Super Bowl’s pre- and postgame shows in earnest. “That’s where we have the inventory,” Winter said. “That’s what we’re telling our customers: We’re sold out at the inn. We’re telling people two things. Number one: If they have an interest, we will put them on a waiting list. Number two, we can still deliver a significant rating -- 25-30 ratings points -- pre- and postgame. Advertisers are now drifting there.”

GOOD ECONOMY KEY TO QUICK SELLOUT: Winter cited several reason for why Fox set records in price and sales pace around this season’s Super Bowl. “First and foremost, the economy is healthy; it starts and stops right there,” Winter said. “If the economy weren’t cooperating, it would be an entirely different story.” Winter also said that advertisers increasingly are buying time in live sports. “There’s a dearth of impressions in the network entertainment and cable marketplaces,” he said. “We have impressions available in sports at scale. Live sports is really the last bastion of scale.” Winter said Fox’ strategy to limit the number of ad breaks helped by making premier positions at the start and end of an ad break more valuable. The Super Bowl will keep the same number of ads as part Super Bowls (77 ads in total). It will have fewer breaks. “The other reality is that I think people know how we go to market,” Winter said. “When we say we are going to try to get a particular unit rate, they know that we’re not going to break price. We just don’t.” Winter said technology, automotive and packaged goods were strong sectors this year. Movies made a comeback, he said. He declined to identify specific advertisers that bought time, but said some “non-traditional advertisers” will be in the game. Because the Super Bowl sold out so early, Winter said some advertisers who want to be in the game will be on the outside looking in. “There are going to be people on the sidelines who invested money in creative,” he said.