The bottom line of scrimmage

NBC expects record ad sales for Super Bowl despite sputtering economy

NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said Tuesday that this year's Super Bowl ad sales probably will set a record, with prices on a few spots topping $3 million per 30-second ad.

Ebersol said during a conference call with reporters that he was pleased that NBC had sold 85% of its inventory for the game by early September, before the ad economy started sputtering in earnest.

"We had one incredibly lucky break," Ebersol said. "Our sales department sold more Super Bowl inventory before the beginning of September than anyone had in history."

A few unnamed spots had been sold at $3 million apiece; others were in the "high" $2 million range, he said.

"I am not going to tell you that it hasn't been a tough slog since then," Ebersol said. "But we're down to the last four spots left in the game, and they have not crashed price in any way, shape or form."

It's not the same for the pregame, however, where things are moving more slowly ad-wise.

Ebersol also disclosed that the Super Bowl is "the last remaining event in television that does not guarantee a rating" to advertisers. He said it has been more than two decades since the Super Bowl rating has varied by more than three ratings points.

"I am comfortable that this game will be a 40 rating or somewhat above that," Ebersol said. (partialdiff)
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