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Super Bowl

Fox Sells 80% of Super Bowl

It's Only June, but Marketer Interest Is Spurring Unusual Ad-Sales Pace for Big Game

By Published on . 5

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Fox has sold as much as 80% of its ad inventory for the Super Bowl, according to a person familiar with the situation, a signal that advertisers are moving earlier than ever to secure good positions in TV programming that still has the power to secure a broad audience.

Fox's ability to notch 80% of Super Bowl ad sales by June shows quite a turnaround in advertiser fascination with the event.
Fox's ability to notch 80% of Super Bowl ad sales by June shows quite a turnaround in advertiser fascination with the event. Credit: AP
At a time when most video content seems to reach fewer people than ever before, the Super Bowl is reaching more. CBS's telecast of the event this year set a record for broadcast television. It reached an average of 106.5 million people, topping the longstanding record set by CBS's telecast of the series finale of "M*A*S*H" in 1983. Meanwhile, other top-tier programs -- including many scripted series, such as ABC's "Lost" or Fox's "24" -- have seen ratings erode over time.

Fox is seeking between $2.8 million and $3 million for a 30-second spot in the game, this person said -- a little more, it seems, than CBS sought for this year's broadcast. Still, the initial pricing does not represent an increase from NBC's efforts to seek $3 million a pop for every ad berth in the 2009 game.

The ability to notch 80% of Super Bowl ad sales by June shows quite a turnaround in advertiser fascination with the event. CBS hadn't reached the 70% sell-out point for the 2010 game until September of last year. And NBC only sold about 30% of its Super Bowl inventory when it completed its 2008 upfront sales in early June of 2008.

But even when the economy is in better shape, selling so much of the Super Bowl before the leaves turn red and gold is abnormal. Selling 90% of the inventory in the 2008 game, the last time Fox broadcast the pigskin classic, took the network until late October of 2007.

General Motors has signed up to advertise in the game, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, after being absent from it in 2009 and 2010. A GM spokeswoman said the company is "not announcing any specific plans at this time." Mediaweek previously reported some elements of Fox's Super Bowl sales efforts.

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