Super Bowl Ads, Near $4 Million Each, Are Almost Sold Out

Super Bowl XLVII logo CBS inset - P 2012

Super Bowl XLVII logo CBS inset - P 2012

With GM on the sidelines, the average price for a 30-second spot hits a record $3.8 million. With less than 5 percent of inventory left, CBS expects a sellout -- and more than $225 million in revenue.

CBS has “less than a handful of spots left” for ads during Super Bowl XLVII, with more than 95 percent of the total advertising inventory sold at a record average price of $3.8 million -- and some at more than $4 million, JoAnn Ross, president of network sales at CBS Television, said Tuesday.

“We literally have just a couple units left in the game,” added John Bogusz, executive vp sports sales and marketing at CBS. “We are really pleased.”

The average price of $3.8 million is up from the $3.5 million NBC got last year. While Ross would not project how much revenue that will mean to CBS, she said it will be in excess of the $225 million that some have estimated.

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CBS sells specific spots in the game and has a contingency plan with backup advertisers in case the game goes to overtime. The pregame and game are sold by the hour and half-hour to title sponsors. Those are all set, said Bogusz, with the exception of one half-hour in the pregame show, which is the subject of active discussions.

Of the top five Super Bowl advertisers during the past decade, only General Motors has not signed on for the Feb. 3 game in New Orleans. The others, in order of their ad spend, are Anheuser-Busch InBev, PepsiCo, the Walt Disney Co. and the Coca-Cola Co. Frito-Lay and Go Daddy will both be back, among others.

Those car ads will come roaring back after being stalled by the recession. “The automotive category is extremely healthy in the game, regardless of General Motors,” said Ross. Much of the slack has been taken up by Japanese and Korean automakers, including Hyundai.

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While they would not name any studio other than Disney, Ross and Bogusz both said the major movie companies will be very visible in the game. “Almost all are in, with one or two exceptions,” said Bogusz. “It’s a big platform for movie releases.”

The robust Super Bowl advertising comes on the heels of a strong sports year for CBS. The sales and pricing for NFL games is up by double digits this year, said Bogusz.

While CBS is happy with its pace, two years ago Fox completely sold out its Super Bowl before the November holiday. “We’d love to be sold out by Thanksgiving,” said Ross, “but I don’t know if that is realistic.”

What is realistic, she said, is that inventory will sell out well before the game. And with the past two Super Bowls being the most-watched programs in U.S. television history, Ross sees the price of ads continuing to rise. “It goes up every year,” she added. “When we have the 50th Super Bowl in three years, that will be fun.”