CBS spokesman Dana McClintock said Thursday more than two dozen companies have purchased Super Bowl ads with a single 30-second commercial out of about 60 originally available in the game being held in reserve for a last-minute buyer.
CBS executives declined to comment on the price for the ads, but one source close to the network said the average was a record $2.3 million for a half-minute commercial for the telecast of the NFL championship game set for Jan. 28.
That would be a 4.5% increase over the $2.2 million average that ABC was reported to have charged for its telecast of last year's Super Bowl, which set the previous mark for the most costly commercials on TV.
The New York Giants are playing the Baltimore Ravens for the title this year, and the game is expected to be seen by upward of 120 million people.
Some media buyers have suggested privately that CBS was having trouble even matching what ABC got a year ago, citing a weaker ad market and far fewer free-spending dot-com advertisers.
There were 17 Internet companies selling everything from pet supplies and wedding invitations to financial and technological advice on last year's game but only three are back - the job sites Monster.com and Hotjobs.com Ltd. and the online broker ETrade Group Inc.
Super Bowl stalwarts are back like the brewer Anheuser-Busch Cos., soft drink marketer Pepsi-Cola, candymaker M&M/Mars, the courier FedEx Corp. and credit card provider Visa International.
Volkswagen of America is the lone car advertiser in the game. Soda maker Dr Pepper bought an ad. Levi Strauss & Co. is on the game for the first time. MasterCard International Inc. is back after skipping last year's game. Technology services provider EDS Corp. returns with a sequel to its "Cat Herder" commercial of a year ago. Food and tobacco company Philip Morris Cos. is also back.
CBS sales executives said they made a concerted effort this year to sell ads in packages that included commercials in the pre- and post-game shows, and expect to reap as much as $150 million from network ads during the Super Bowl programs that could stretch over more than 10 hours.