CBS' coverage of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Men's Basketball Tournament is approximately 90% sold out at prices that are roughly in line with last year. New advertisers this
year include Charles Schwab, Hershey and Audi. Liberty Mutual, a sponsor last year, is not returning.
John Bogusz, executive vice president at CBS Sports, says this year's coverage,
which begins March 19, is commanding roughly the same pricing as last year. Some buyers are reporting price hikes of 2-3%. The total volume of network sales is expected to be about even with last
year at around $430 million. A 30-second spot in the Final Four and championship games is priced between $1.3 and $1.4 million.
General Motors, which bowed out of this year's Super Bowl and Oscars' telecasts, struck a multiyear NCAA sponsorship deal several years ago and returns as a top-tier sponsor of the telecast, joined by Coca-Cola and AT&T. Buyers say overall CBS is in pretty good shape this year, given the recession. The tournament has "one of the highest CPMs in all of sports," says one buyer, estimating a CPM of $150 or more for men 21 to 34 and approximately $30 on a household basis.