Super Bowl: Flat Pricing Or Hidden Price Tag?

The Super Bowl gets the highest price for commercials on television--duly deserved for the TV show that gets the highest rating of the year. Yet in the last three years the event hasn't shown a price increase.

This would be seem strange--considering that over the last three TV seasons there have been some hot overall TV advertising markets, and considering that advertising executives have complained there is even more value to those entertainment events that get a big broad-base audience.

ABC has the next Super Bowl, to air Feb. 5, priced at $2.4 million for a thirty-second commercial--a price tag that hasn't risen in three years, according to press reports. Fingers are pointing the blame at two perennial advertisers sitting on the sidelines--Visa and McDonald's--as well as NBC's Torino Olympics, which will also run in February. The games could be taking the wind--and advertising dollars--out of the Super Bowl sails.



A more revealing explanation might point to the increased packaging that goes with the Super Bowl--as well as some public relations managing.

Though the Super Bowl stands alone as a special advertising event--though not for every marketer--more networks aren't selling the event by itself. Increasingly, executives says that networks airing the game have sold it with other regular season prime-time TV programming during the last several upfront markets.

These deals wouldn't keep the overall cost to marketers--it would rise. The ultimate aim of TV networks ad sales chiefs is to maximize revenue for their entire programming lineups. If they were to get additional advertising revenue for other, lower-level, programming, that would be considered a positive strategy.

TV advertising executives say price increases per show are all relative: "It depends on the bookkeeping. A network can assign a certain value to the Super Bowl, but a marketer might see it another way, and assign a different value."

The Super Bowl's million-dollar price tag has always been considered a daring and high-profile move. But the return on investment for advertisers was that they got more than the actual spot--there's public relation value that goes along with advertising on the Super Bowl.

But now with procurement executives at companies taking a harder line, making their marketers account for every dollar spent--as well as Wall Street analysts looking more keenly at every financial crumb for signs of a company's weakness or strength-- being associated with the increasingly higher cost of the Super Bowl isn't as glamorous.

Super Bowl perception has always rode with a marketers' creative: The Monday morning quarterbacking of publications giving reviews of their commercials. Perhaps now second-guessing has shifted to the game's high price.

Maybe it's why some of those involved--TV sales or buying executives--are looking to hide its real price tag.

Next story loading loading..