CBS Sells Out Super Bowl Inventory — CBS Corp. CEO Says Ad Prices for Game Have Never Been Higher

Jan 9, 2013  •  Post A Comment

By Brian Steinberg
Advertising Age

CBS has sold out its ad inventory for its coming broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII, according to Leslie Moonves, chief executive of the network’s corporate parent, CBS Corp.

Speaking before a crowd at a press event aimed at highlighting CBS’s efforts behind its Feb. 3rd broadcast, Mr. Moonves said the network had more or less sold all inventory for the game — but that if a late-coming sponsor wanted to talk about advertising, the door was always open. The National Football League typically limits the number of minutes devoted to advertising in the game.

CBS has won an average of between $3.7 million and $3.8 million for the 2013 Super Bowl, according to ad buyers, up from what was believed to be an average of about $3.5 million for spots in NBC’s 2012 broadcast of the gridiron classic. In some cases, said Mr. Moonves, prices came to "more than $4 million," which he suggested were among the highest ever paid for the event. One CBS-owned station, New York’s WCBS, had sold a local ad during the coming Super Bowl broadcast for more than $1 million, he said.

NBC said last year that one advertiser in Super Bowl XLVI paid around $4 million for a promotional berth in the event.

The outsize figures suggest advertisers continue to place more stock in the Super Bowl than in any other property on TV, including such pricey programs as NBC’s "Sunday Night Football," Fox’s "American Idol," ABC’s "Modern Family" or AMC’s "The Walking Dead." As Mr. Moonves noted, Super Bowl broadcasts on Fox in 2011 and NBC in 2012 notched more than 111 milllon viewers. And while it’s never guranteed that the game will continue to attract more people to the TV screen, sponsors clearly feel it’s a better bet than any other media property available.

"It would take a lot of clicks on Facebook to equal" the Super Bowl audience, Mr. Moonves said.

CBS’s announcement comes at about the same time NBC announced a sell-out for its 2012 broadcast. News Corp.’s Fox was able to complete sales for its 2011 broadcast of the game, however, by October of the previous year. Mr. Moonves downplayed speculation that the economy may be weighing on advertisers’ pocketbooks. Instead, he suggested, CBS had held out longer to secure higher prices for the game. The company always envisioned taking a year to sell advertising in its Super Bowl XLVII broadcast, he said.

It’s not as if advertiser interest has been sparse. CBS had sold nearly half of its inventory by the time NBC’s 2012 broadcast was finished, with several longtime incumbent sponsors and car companies snapping up time quickly. Among the sponsors for the 2013 contest are veterans such as Audi of America, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola Co. and Anheuser-Busch InBev, which will advertise alongside newcomers including SodaStream and Gildan Activewear.

In advertising circles, one long-held tenet suggests it’s easy to sell the first 80% of the game, but the real challenge comes in offloading the remaining time.


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