To determine just how much of a premium Super Bowl sponsors were paying, Ayer worked up several scenarios for what the equivalent $900,000 budget could have gotten you in terms of a conventional prime-time TV schedule.
In one scenario, Ayer offers a Sunday and Monday night roadblock with commercials airing simultaneously during prime-time programs on all four broadcast networks (see chart, Scenario 2), with a Thursday night spot on Fox's top-rated "The Simpsons" thrown in for good measure.
The buy would have cost only $895,000 and would have generated a reach against adults 18 to 49 that is 25% higher than the Super Bowl spot's.
Another scenario would afford a spot on one of the Big 3's top-rated shows on each night of an entire week (Scenario 1). That example would have generated more than 60 gross rating points, topping the Super Bowl spot's reach against adults 18 to 49 by 6%, and leaving $9,000 in savings.
Ayer also worked up two other versions, including an array of coveted prime-time shows, and all arrived at the same conclusion: higher reach than the Super Bowl for the same price or less.
Ayer noted that one of the main advantages to buying the Super Bowl is unduplicated reach and that the alternative scenarios provided would account for some duplication in audience.
"Still," said Ayer Associate Director of Media Research Rob Frydlewicz, "the schedules managed to exceed the reach of one Super Bowl spot with adults 18 to 49 and 25 to 54."