CBS and NBC will switch up the rotation for the broadcast of the 2021 and 2022 Super Bowls, a move that lets both networks pair the gridiron classic with other big sports events in their portfolios.
CBS, which was supposed to broadcast the event next in 2022, will instead take the 2021 broadcast, while NBC will move back a year, CBS, NBC and the NFL confirmed Wednesday.
The arrangement allows NBC to align the Super Bowl with its 2022 broadcast of the Winter Olympics, and gives CBS a Super Bowl that won’t have to compete with the NBC sports extravaganza. The switch will also give CBS a chance to have both a Super Bowl broadcast and top-ranked college basketball in the same year. The network gets to air the NCAA Final Four basketball championship that year; CBS and WarnerMedia, which air that tournament jointly, rotate the broadcast of the final game.
The New York Post previously reported the change in scheduling what is arguably the media industry’s biggest annual broadcast.
NBC last had a Super Bowl and an Olympics broadcast in 2018, and worked to align sponsors with both Super Bowl LII and the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. “You can create a spot that runs in the Super Bowl and you can amortize your costs of creating it by running it in the Olympics,” Dan Lovinger, executive vice president, ad sales, of NBC Sports Group, told Variety in 2017, as the company was pitching Madison Avenue on the prospect.
NBC, CBS and Fox typically rotate the annual Super Bowl broadcast as part of their rights deals with the NFL. But the switch-up suggests the networks and the NFL may be willing to change their traditional ways of doing business and arrange the Super Bowl structure in ways that help each network maximize its own programming lineup.
The Super Bowl alone generates millions of dollars in advertising revenue. Kantar Media estimated CBS’ recent broadcast of Super Bowl LIII snared $382 million in advertising from sponsors,compared to $408 million for NBC in 2017 and $419 million for Fox in 2016.
But linking the Super Bowl broadcast to other parts of a network’s lineup is becoming more important. TV networks often try to use the Super Bowl to get advertisers to buy larger packages of inventory.