That didn’t take long. Fox, which is broadcasting Super Bowl LIV, said all ad slots for the game have been sold, at a far faster rate than last year’s last-minute deals, and for as much as a record $5.6 million for 30 seconds of airtime.
The cost for a half-minute slot was 5.6 percent higher than last year, which topped out at $5.3 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Notably, the Journal reported the quick inventory sell-out two months and a week before the game (both the Journal and Fox are controlled by the Murdoch clan). Compared to last year, when the last ads were sold hours before kickoff, this year came together quicker than a Tom Brady-Julian Edelman TD strike.
It also came far sooner than the previous few years, showing the continuing rebound in the NFL’s reputation. That has led, in turn, to rebounding ratings over the past year and a half. Both had been battered for several years by issues surrounding head injuries and National Anthem protests, among other controversies.
Ratings began to revive during the 2018-2019 season, and have continued into this season, helped by a new generation of stars and the easing of public disaffection over those issues.
Last year’s 53rd Super Bowl, featuring a desultory game between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams and a half-time performance by Maroon 5, attracted an average 100.7 million viewers. That was the worst viewership in a decade but still better by far than anything else on the small screen this year.
The ad sellout also shows the durable appeal to advertisers for live events, at least at the highest level. They’re what’s left of tune-in TV as the streaming-video revolution proceeds apace.
With Apple TV+ and Disney+ streaming services launched this month, and HBO Max and Comcast’s Peacock arriving about two months after the Super Bowl, this may be the last year of TV’s ancien regime as cord-cutting continues and the old cable bundles wither.
But, in a bit of irony, the live Super Bowl will be a huge brand-building opportunity even for the streaming services, which mostly will rely on subscriptions rather than ads for their revenue.
With stiffening competition, expect most or all of those SVOD services to be among the entertainment outlets that Fox executives said would be “well represented” among the game’s advertisers.
Other sectors advertising in the game include the usual suspects: tech, automotive and beverage companies, Fox officials told the Journal, while declining to specify which companies have signed on.
Among those reportedly signing up to advertise during the broadcast, according to various outlets: Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, Kia Motors, Avocados from Mexico, Kellogg and auto after-market manufacturer WeatherTech.