Such A Deal! Fox Will Sell Digital-Only Super Bowl Ads

This is something. In case you missed it, and in case you have a few hundred thousand dollars to spare, Fox is selling digital-only ads for this year’s Super Bowl, at the bargain rate of  ... $700,000 per 30-second spot.

Wow. That seems like major coinage for a commercial that is, quite literally, one in a series of ads that will be seen on that Sunday. When CBS had game rights last year, it sold digital rights only to the 50 advertisers that forked out more major bucks for a spot on the television broadcast, but not a separate tier for advertisers that only wanted the digital platform.

A 30-second commercial on TV and digital feed of the Super Bowl will set an advertiser back $5 million. That’s what Fox Sports President Eric Shanks told TV critics who meet every year about this time in Pasadena. (It’s not like the swallows in Capistrano. The critics are invited.)



It’s hard to justify spending millions on one lousy (or in the case of the Super Bowl, probably fantastically clever) commercial. In most cases, it’s corporate ego run amok. But it happens every year, for more and more money.

It’s likely that this year’s Super Bowl will set a record for digital viewership of an NFL game. Last year’s game attracted 1.4 million views per minute. That's not quite twice the 800,000 per minute from the year before, but four times as many as 2012, when 346,000 per minute saw the Super Bowl from NBC on a digital device.

Given the growth and lack-of-oddness about watching live events on digital devices, it would be reasonable to assume significantly more will watch this year’s Super Bowl on a digital device. (About 10 ordinary NFL games shown on Twitter this season each attracted about 2 million.)

Even so, $700,000 to reach them seems pretty rich.

There are various ways to watch a Super Bowl feed digitally that just about equal watching it over the air. 

But a lot of those views will be on smartphones, and in viewing circumstances that aren’t ideal. Most people who could watch the game on a big TV would be doing so. Those who aren’t are the nation’s security guards, cross-country motorists and sturdy ice fishers. There's nothing wrong with them, but I'd say a component part of lots of digital viewing is a less than fully engaged audience.

During a four-hour telecast, even more so.  

For $700,000, a would-be digital advertiser could get so much more by carefully--and maybe not so carefully--choosing where, when and how to advertise otherwise online. Unlike the TV ad, potentially seen by over 100 million Americans, that dinky digital-only ad will only earn the ability for a big fish-in-a-small-pond boast.

Advertisers can be terrifically illogical, though. That $700,000 will seem like a big bargain to some marketers, and in one way they’re right. It’s just a fraction of the money they could be blowing if they bought one of those Super Bowl TV commercials.

It’s all relative.

1 comment about "Such A Deal! Fox Will Sell Digital-Only Super Bowl Ads".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, January 17, 2017 at 10:59 a.m.

    One wonders how many of those digital "views" translate into 'VIEWERS" per $700,000 commercial?

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