Super Bowl

Super Bowl Blackout Left CBS, Advertisers In the Dark

Sales Staff Scrambled to Make Sure Commercials Aired, Help Clients

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Where were you when the lights went out at the Super Bowl?

CBS's top ad-sales executives were in New Orleans, holding clients' hands.

Superdome blackout during Super Bowl XLVII
Superdome blackout during Super Bowl XLVII Credit: Bloomberg

As a blackout delayed Super Bowl XLVII for more than 30 interminable minutes, CBS was left without a road map. While other sporting events have been delayed by weather or freak circumstance, none of them had advertisers ponying up between $3.5 million and $4 million for 30-second spots.

The power outage began at about 8:32 p.m., according to data compiled by Kantar Media. At 8:38 p.m., CBS ran a break featuring spots for Walt Disney's "Iron Man 3" movie; Century 21; BlackBerry; E-Trade; and one of its own shows. After resuming live coverage, the network went to another break at 8:41 p.m., according to Kantar. The next pod contained ads from Subway, Bud Light and the NFL. After returning to the air at 8:43 p.m., CBS took a quick break at 8:49 p.m. to run a network promo, and then stayed on the air until 9:15 p.m., whereupon it reran the pod containing Subway, Bud Light and the rest.

For Anheuser-Busch InBev, the second airing was unexpected, said spokeswoman Lisa Weser. "The first time it aired it was during the blackout stoppage and CBS wanted to make sure the advertisers/advertisements that ran in that break ran in game action."

"Tony Taranto [head of Super Bowl sales] was in the broadcast compound and John Bogusz [head of CBS Sports sales] was in the suite, both of whom had hard lines into the trucks," said network sales chief Jo Ann Ross. "Tony and John, along with Cathy Yancy of the NFL ... worked with CBS Sports production to ensure that all spots would run."

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