Four Days Before Kickoff, Super Bowl Is (Almost) Sold
Much has been written about the difficulty of selling Super Bowl spots this year. "In the past, there was more of an upfront rush," D'Ermilio says, "this year it was steadier. They fill up at the last minute because they don't make commitments earlier. It's definitely a phenomenon of the current economic climate. It was the same for the World Series and the NFL."
Because of lower demand, ad rates dipped this year to $2 million for a :30 spot, a 9% drop. Rates were $2.3 million last year and $2.2 million in 2000, according to Kagan World Media.
The dip in demand also caused Fox to shorten the pre-game show. It began at 11:00 in 1999 and will begin at 1:30 this year. "It's a function of ad demand," he says. There will be five pre-game hours, compared with 7.6 in 1999.
As for this year's advertisers, Anheuser Busch is the exclusive beer advertiser, and Pepsi owns the soft drinks category with a 90-second spot starring Britney Spears. A new advertiser this year is Universal Theme Parks, which bought a 60-second spot in the third quarter for $3 million. Only four dot-com advertisers will be making a return appearance this year — Yahoo!, Monster, HotJobs and eTrade.
"The 15 to 20 units bought by dot-coms two years ago have never been replaced," says Mel Berning, president of U.S. broadcast at MediaVest. “What drives media is a new category spending money looking to make a big splash in the Super Bowl, which isn't happening since the dot-coms went away."
Another reason for the dip in demand is competition with the Olympics, which starts Feb. 8. Some advertisers prefer the Olympics, because it combines sports with entertainment and it's more popular with women. Volkswagen, Nike and Allstate Insurance, for instance, bought the Olympics instead of the Super Bowl. The Olympics is almost a sell out for NBC.
"With a soft media economy and a huge event coming up, it's a tough time for Fox," Berning says.
The Super Bowl scored a 40.4 household rating last year and 43.3 in 2000. It had a 61 share last year and 63 in 2000. The CPM was 55.69 last year and 50.44 in 2000, according to Kagan World Media. It reaches an audience of more than 80 million.
Although Fox has had problems this year, it expects to generate $120 million from the game. "Given the circumstances, they've done a pretty good job," Berning says.