With less than a month to go before the kickoff of Super Bowl LII, NBCUniversal still has a handful of 30-second spots to sell in the game. But that isn’t keeping the Comcast-owned media company from predicting the Big Game will bring one of the biggest ad-revenue hauls in recent history.
NBCU has fewer than ten 30-second spots left to sell in its February 4 broadcast of the event, said Dan Lovinger, the executive who oversees sports ad sales for the company. And while selling the Super Bowl has taken networks longer to sell than it has in past years, Lovinger said NBCU expected national TV advertising associated with the game broadcast, pre- and post-game shows, and a special broadcast of “This Is Us” after the football game to generate around $500 million in revenue.
“We expect February 4 will set the single-day record for advertising generated by a single media company,” he said during a conference call with reporters. The average cost of a package of Super Bowl ad inventory that includes digital and English and Spanish-language broadcast of the game is selling for an average of “north of $5 million,” he said.
Lovinger also said NBCU expected to notch around $900 million in ad revenue from its coming broadcast of the Winter Olympics – surpassing totals sold in its previous Winter Olympics broadcast in Sochi and setting up a prediction of around $1.4 billion in total for both sporting events.
NBCUniversal finds itself in an intriguing situation. It will broadcast two of TV’s biggest events – a Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics – within days of each other. But with big TV events come big prices for commercials at at time when advertisers have a growing array of digital video that is often cheaper to support, albeit not often as effective and attention-grabbing.
That tension has affected recent Super Bowl ad-sales efforts. TV networks for years used to sell out a Super Bowl broadcast by the preceding fall, but ad buyers say a new plethora of football events – ranging from Thursday-night football games on CBS and NBC, streaming video of those games on Amazon, to the occasional YouTube broadcast – have slowed momentum behind the gridiron classic.
Indeed, the last time a network announced sell-out months in advance took place in 2013, when Fox managed to close out inventory for Super Bowl XLVIII – broadcast in 2014 – in December of the previous year. In 2017, Fox never said whether or not it had sold out its broadcast of Super Bowl LI. NBCU announced sell-out of its last Super Bowl broadcast – Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 – just days before kickoff.
But Lovinger said NBCU was seeing healthy demand for the Super Bowl broadcast, particularly from the usual categories, which include automotive manufacturers and movie studios. He also cited robust activity from makers of consumer products, continuing a recent trend; in 2017, Procter & Gamble aired ads in the Super Bowl for three different products. Marketers of telecommunications, consumer electronics, beverages and financial services will also have a strong presence in the game, he indicated.
Viewers are also likely to see a spate of longer-than-usual commercials – a format that has been ebbing and flowing steadily since Fiat Chrysler Automobiles first ran a two-minute-long Super Bowl ad in 2011 touting Detroit’s resurgence after a punishing recession. “What we are seeing is more interest in long-form than in short-form, said Lovinger. “You will see more longer-form – longer than 30 seconds – in this game than you probably have in any other Super Bowl. It just comes down to advertisers looking at this as the ultimate platform to tell a story.”