Longer Storytelling At The Super Bowl: Is It Content Marketing Or A TV Ad?

Paying a big price tag of $5 million to $5.6 million for a 30-second commercial in the Super Bowl, which doesn't include the cost of production, isn't enough for marketers.

Storytelling seems to be a bigger issue, and that could mean longer TV commercials -- anywhere from 60-second ads to 90 seconds long.

Of the total ad load -- some 77 30-second equivalent commercials will air on the Fox Television Network this Sunday -- Seth Winter, executive vice president, sports sales for Fox Sports, has reportedly said 28 commercials will be of longer length: 45 seconds, 60 seconds and 90 seconds. This would be up slightly from a year ago, according to Kantar Media data for the 2019 game.

Overall TV commercial demand is high, with Fox saying late last year it was virtually sold out. Now, perhaps in response to this, Fox is adding two more “floating” 60-second commercials, available to some of the top NFL sponsors. That would mean around $10 million to $12 million or so for one of these long Super Bowl messages.



This comes as the TV industry has witnessed ever higher prices for live TV programming for sports, particularly the NFL, as compared to fewer overall live TV big events available to TV advertisers.

All this has meant ever-increasing TV ad rates for all non-programming content -- paid advertising as well as TV network promotion -- for the big game. In 2019, Kantar Media said there were 91 in-game non-program messages on CBS; 86 on NBC in 2018.

Even with somewhat-declining Super Bowl viewership -- now just under 100 million (98.2 million Nielsen-measure viewers in 2019) -- it is still the most-viewed individual TV program every year. The second-most viewed TV events are the NFL Championship games, which now run around 40 million-plus total average viewers each year.

At the same time, we see reports suggesting there is more in-house Super Bowl TV commercial production at big TV ad-marketing units this year. More storytelling efforts at work?

Could this also mean cutting back on lesser-viewed TV networks programming content? For example, there are fewer big TV series ending events -- such as “The Big Bang Theory” on CBS a year ago. That's when a large number of viewers gather under the marketing guise of an “event.”

With fewer of these TV programs out and about to gather broad-scale TV consumers, marketers are perhaps viewing the Super Bowl as fertile ground for more “stories” in the game itself -- with associated marketing content coming before and after the actual TV event to help amortize cost.

Content marketing can be an overused term -- so is contextual marketing. Yet it appears to be somewhat alive and well around major TV wide-scale impact programming.

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