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Super Bowl Ads Sell Out at Average of $4 Million Each

Ravens Win Super Bowl - H 2013
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Super Bowl XLVII champion Baltimore Ravens

Ad sales are hot for the first outdoor cold-weather game –- with some costing as much as $4.5 million.

Television advertising sales for the first Super Bowl to be played outdoors in a cold-weather city are red hot, with 30-second spots averaging $4 million for the first time and some reaching an all-time record of $4.5 million.

"Because it is in New York it's 10 times what it could normally be," says Neil Mulcahy, executive vp sales, Fox Sports Media Group. "There are so many opportunities, so many companies and advertising agencies based in New York, and everybody wants to make the splash bigger."

Fox Sports began pitching Super Bowl advertising at the upfronts this past May, but not just for the Feb. 2, 2014, game. From the start their strategy has been to bundle, where possible, advertising in the game with pre- and postgame show, expanded digital offerings -- and especially Fox Sports 1, the all-sports network that launched in August.

"We've been on the street selling all of our properties together," says Mulcahy. "It's not like we're forcing people to do anything, but our sales pitch since the upfront has been, "We want you to participate in everything.' "

CBS last year sold in-game ads for an average of about $3.7 million each, which was a high at the time. Fox is averaging about $4 million per ad spot and in August had sold more than 80 percent of ad space. As its stock of ad space has dwindled, prices have risen as high as $4.5 million, according to a knowledgeable source. Fox would not confirm the numbers.

In terms of who is advertising, the automobile category will dominate. General Motors returns to the game with ads for Chevy, but there will also be ads from Chrysler, Hyundai, Jaguar and Kia, according to the source.

Budweiser will again be a major Super Bowl ad buyer, while Pepsi will sponsor the halftime show, featuring Bruno Mars. There will be ads for electronics, financial software, Internet sites, yogurt, candy bars, pistachio nuts and more.

"It's just an incredible property," says Mulcahy. "The demand for this is unlike anything else."

During the week leading up to the game, Fox is planning a massive promotional push befitting the event's stature. In addition to the blanket coverage on Fox Sports 1, so-called "road blocks" will air at 8 p.m. each night across every Fox channel, from Fox and FX to Fox News as well as digital outlets like FoxSports.com, Scout.com and Yardbarker.com.

There will also be special Super Bowl programming on Fox-owned Channel 5 in New York, Fox News and other Fox outlets broadcast from a three-story set in the middle of New York City's Times Square.

For the first time, according to Marla Newman, Fox Sports Digital senior vp sales, the game will be live-streamed (as will the pre- and postgame shows) on FoxSports.com.

"For the Super Bowl, fans will be able to access this in an unauthenticated fashion," says Newman, "which is the only time you can access live streaming on any of our products without authentication."

Advertising during the game will be on the digital streams for the most part, but there will also be alternate ads and additional spots on the new media feed.

"Because the on-air [ads] sold out so quickly we see healthy demand for streaming [ads]," says Newman, "and it is moving quickly, but we still have inventory."

Newman says they also plan to utilize social media, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, in new ways to deliver content and get fans involved in a personal way.

Newman says the digital outlets will also carry a series of "I [heart] New York" videos. "People [celebrities, sports figures] who have a history with New York can take fans on a tour and really bring New York to life," says Newman.

A report released Monday on New Jersey's NJ.com says it will be the most costly Super Bowl of all time, with the total expected to exceed $70 million.

The opening won't even be in East Rutherford, according to Mulcahy. It is being held across the river from the stadium in Hoboken -- also outdoors. "The Super Bowl committee is going to be running a program that kicks off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony," says Mulcahy. "There will be a bunch of dignitaries, NFL athletes and a concert there. It's going to be a huge opening unlike what has been done anywhere else."

There will be a Hollywood-style red carpet area where movie and TV stars, politicians, sports figures and other celebrities will be photographed and interviewed before, during and after the Super Bowl.

Having it in New York is an ad man's dream, says Mulcahy, with one hitch. "The biggest pain in the neck is all these people who want Super Bowl tickets and we don't have any," says Mulcahy. "That's the biggest problem of being in New York."

What Mulcahy can promise is that this is going to be "the biggest, boldest and the coldest Super Bowl ever."