In what could be a bold move to grab ownership of the world's premiere advertising showcase, AOL is close to inking the presenting sponsorship deal with CBS for Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston on Feb. 1, 2004.
According to execs close to the situation, the beleaguered Internet service is in final stages of negotiation for a sponsorship/ad package crafted with the network, totaling $7 million-$10 million. Several branded-entertainment components are being discussed.
If the deal comes to fruition, for instance, at an undetermined time after the game airs, AOL will rebroadcast the halftime show on streaming video, as well as re-air all the commercials that ran during the game. Considering many people tune into the NFL championship clash as much for the commercials as the gridiron action, AOL would seem to be poised to receive a considerable spike online.
Beyond that, AOL, which, will run its own :30 commercials in the game, would receive a :20 "vignette-type" enhancement during the pre-game coverage, according to one exec. CBS is also talking about giving the company two pre-game promos between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
This would mark the first time AOL has sponsored the Super Bowl halftime show. This deal is heating up on the heels of the announcement that AOL and the NFL have agreed to provide previews and game highlights to AOL broadband subscribers starting this season.
AOL CEO Jon Miller has been touting the service's broadband offerings and is launching an ad campaign for its AOL 9.0.
The show, to be produced by Viacom's MTV, will be music-based again, however, there is no talent attached yet. Last year's halftime show was sponsored by AT&T Wireless.
An AOL spokeswoman would not confirm that a deal is close while a CBS spokesman declined to comment.