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Fox Says Super Bowl TV Ad Inventory Is Sold Out

Fox has sold all of its TV ad inventory for Super Bowl XLVIII, slated to be played February 2 and broadcast by the 21st Century Fox-owned network from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Now the network is moving to line up clients for other types of  marketing related to the gridiron classic, including ads in its digital stream of the game, commercials in pre-and post-game programming and content on Fox Sports 1 in the week leading up to the event.

“The in-game is presently sold out, but many opportunities remain,” said Neil Mulcahy, exec veep of Fox Sports ad sales, in an interview. Fox has sold more than 50% of the inventory that will accompany its digital stream of the game on FoxSports.com, and, possibly, other venues.

To be certain, NBC, CBS and Fox – the three networks that currently have rights to broadcast the game on a rotating basis – never truly close the window on Super Bowl sales. In the weeks leading up to the game, some advertisers may balk at the price to which they have committed and ask the network to try to sell its ad berth to another marketer.  And while the National Football League typically limits the networks to around 65 30-second national commercials – representing about 32 minutes and 30 seconds’ worth of time (not including network promos and local-station advertising) –  there’s always the thought that room exists for just one more.

Fox has been seeking around $4 million for a 30-second spot, according to media buyers. The figure is not a record – CBS said earlier this year it had sold ad time in Super Bowl XLVII at more than that price –  but it is indicative of high demand for what may well be the biggest event on U.S. television at a time when more audiences are finding new ways to consume content that does not involve the boob tube.

Fox had sold 85% of its Super Bowl TV inventory by late August, and Mulcahy predicted at that time that sales would wrap before November. In reality, he said, Fox completed its sales for the event the week before Thanksgiving.

Among those advertisers already confirmed for the Big Game are Anheuser-Busch InBev, PepsiCo’s beverages and the company’s  Frito-Lay snacks, GoDaddy, Intuit, General Motors’ Chevrolet, Nestle’s Butterfinger, Mars, Jaguar, Dannon’s Oikos yogurt, Hyundai Motor America, Kia Motor and Roll International’s Wonderful Pistachios.

Fox’s Mulcahy suggested a few sponsors would make use of longform commercials. In the past three games, Chrysler has stood out by running ads that are two minutes in length and use eyebrow-raising creative ideas such as Clint Eastwood talking about “halftime in America” or an Eminem song as a soundtrack in a spot talking about the rebirth of the auto business in Detroit. “Maybe one or more is going longform,” Mulcahy said.

Viewers who choose to stream the 2014 Super Bowl should not expect to see the exact same ads running during the TV broadcast of the event, said Marla Newman, senior veep of Fox Sports digital ad sales. Many of the Super Bowl’s TV sponsors will run ads during the live stream of the game, she said. Those commercials usually come in the form of video commercials that appear during breaks in the game but also graphic ads that surround the video player.

Ad prices accompanying the digital stream of the Super Bowl typically do not match those for the TV broadcast. Newman declined to comment on pricing, but for its 2012 broadcast of Super Bowl XLVI, NBC sought a price in the high six figures to low seven figures for digital ads.

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