In Depth

Ads in Super Bowl's Digital 'Second Screen' Nearly Sold Out

By Brian Steinberg
Advertising Age

Ad sales for what is just the second live-streaming of the Super Bowl are nearly complete, with CBSSports.com nearly sold out as advertisers seek to dangle their promotions in front of consumers whose familiarity with streaming video and "second screen" experiences has grown exponentially since the 2012 event.

"The online inventory is nearly sold out at this point," said David Morris, chief client officer of CBS Interactive, which is overseeing sales of the digital inventory surrounding the game. "We only have a few packages remaining."

When sports fans tune in for live streaming, Mr. Morris said, they will see ads from marketers supporting the pre-game and Super Bowl broadcasts on CBS. Ads will primarily come in the form of video commercials that appear during breaks in the game and "companion" advertising that is placed around the CBSSports player during game time.

Categories that will have a noticeable presence in the CBS live-stream include autos, consumer packaged goods, restaurants, beverages, retail and technology, he said, declining to name specific clients. But not every Super Bowl advertiser is in the live stream, Mr. Morris added. He declined to comment on the tone of the commercials, so it remains unclear whether digital viewers will be able to see all the big-budget TV ads for which the event is known.

While Super Bowl TV ads have been going for an average of between $3.7 million and $3.8 million, ad prices for digital inventory around the game are significantly less. Mr. Morris declined to offer a range of pricing CBS Interactive was getting, but NBC last year was selling inventory surrounding its live stream for a range that moved between the high six figure and low seven figures.

NBC broke ground last year with its live-streaming of the Super Bowl, the first time the gridiron classic was transmitted by a TV network in non-traditional fashion. NBC said its effort reached 2.1 million unique users.

Since that time, the mobile tablet market has expanded and more TV networks have tried offering digital content that viewers can follow while they watch programs on TV. With that in mind, said Mr. Morris, "you're going to have social features for sure; never-been-done-before camera angles."

CBS Interactive made pitches to advertisers with counterparts from the CBS network, Mr. Morris said. Advertisers were given the option of putting together a cross-platform package or talking to the two CBS Corp. units separately, he added.