Super Bowl

NBC Still Not Sold Out of Super Bowl Ad Inventory

Super Bowl XLIX Is About 95% Sold Out

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NBC is still trying to sell a bit more Super Bowl ad inventory, with a handful of units left and about 95% of its commercial time sold.

"We fully expect to meet or exceed our sales goals," said Seth Winter, exec VP-sales and sales marketing, NBC Sports Group and NBC Universal News Group.

Mr. Winter noted that NBC, which will air Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1, is pacing ahead of 2012, the last time the network aired the game. Mr. Winter said NBC was still selling some inventory up until that game. But according to reports from 2012, NBC had sold its last ad berth by Jan. 3 that year. Any further activity, NBC said then, would revolve around re-selling time given back by marketers.

NBC has slightly more inventory to sell in the Super Bowl this year than in 2012, which is why its pacing is ahead in unit terms even with more ad time left to sell, according to an NBC spokesman.

On Wednesday, Mr. Winter did reiterate that it's been a tougher year than others and that NBC has not been impervious to larger market conditions plaguing TV.

In particular, the auto category has been a challenge.

Several major automakers that appeared in the game over the last few years have decided to sit out 2015, including Honda, Acura, Jaguar, Lincoln and Volkswagen.

In 2014, 11 auto brands aired commercials during the big game, according to Ad Age's annual chart.

There were 9 auto brands in the 2013 game, 12 in 2012 and 9 in 2011, according to Kantar Media.

Just a handful of auto brands are confirmed so far for 2015, including Nissan, Toyota and Mercedes. Volkswagen's Audi, Hyundai and General Motors, among others, still have not said whether they will run spots.

That's left some media buyers wondering whether the game will resemble those played amid steep recession. The auto category had just three brands advertise in the Super Bowl in 2009 and six in 2010.

New advertisers
Mr. Winter said there are at least 15 new advertisers filling the breech left by the auto category. These include Avocados From Mexico, a marketing unit that promotes the produce in the U.S.; glue-maker Loctite; cruise-ship operator Carnival; and smartphone accessories maker Mophie.

Other categories of strength include soft drinks, quick-service restaurants and insurance, Mr. Winter said. Aside from autos, there's been some weakness in technology, as well as wireless categories.

Many of the usual suspects will run commercials in the game, including Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Doritos and Coca-Cola. Other confirmed advertisers include GoDaddy, Squarespace, Dove and TurboTax.

NBC has been fetching about $4.5 million for a 30-second spot.

Mr. Winter noted strength in demand for both pre and post-game ad time, with the post-game essentially sold out.

NBC's digital ad revenue for the Super Bowl has also virtually doubled since the network aired the game in 2012, according to Mr. Winter, who said he wished it had more capacity to offer.

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