Fox Sells Out Super Bowl With Spots Going for $4.5M

Fox says it has sold all of the commercials during its upcoming Super Bowl broadcast but is still pushing opportunities during live streaming and on cable to advertisers interested in being part of the big game.

Most 30-second commercials sold for about $4 million, with prices climbing to $4.5 million as the last few spots were claimed, according to executives familiar with the situation. CBS averaged just under $4 million per spot for the 2013 Super Bowl.

Neil Mulcahy, executive VP of Fox Sports, said that while being sold out is great, his work isn’t done. “There’s going to be someone coming to us tomorrow who going to want to buy another unit and we’ll be trying to find someone to get out,” he says. “The real key to being sold out is just to emphasize all the great opportunities we have around the Super Bowl.”

With this season’s Super Bowl being played in New Jersey on Feb 2, Fox expects marketers will want more ways to get caught up in the hoopla.

Fox bundled some of its Super Bowl spots with commercials in its newly launched cable channel Fox Sports 1. FS1 and other Fox outlets including Fox News and local station WNYW-TV in New York will have Super Bowl coverage originating from an encampment in Times Square during the week leading up to the game.

“It was very well planned knowing that we had the Super Bowl and launching FS1,” Mulcahy says. “What we went to the marketplace with is an opportunity to get involved with everything from the network to cable to digital.”

FS1 will have a live morning show starting Monday before the game. On Super Sunday, FS1 will have pre-game coverage from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., when Fox broadcast coverage kicks in.

Fox will also be streaming a full day of Super Bowl events via to computers and tablets, according to Marla Newman, senior VP for sales at Fox Sports Digital.  “So you will see the whole pre-game, the game, the halftime show, the post game, all done via live stream,” Newman says. “We think it will be the largest live streaming event of the year.”

Fox’s streaming will not require authentication, which means everyone can watch online.

Newman says CBS last year saw a 100% increase in live streams and a 50% increase in unique users from the previous Super Bowl and Fox is expecting similar growth this year. “There’s no reason for us to believe that growth wouldn’t continue because of the amount of people who are using mobile and tablet devices as well as browsers to watch more and more video,” she says. “People have more comfort with getting into the live streaming environment, so we’re anticipating it to be record breaking.”

The Super Bowl is typically the most watched TV event of the year, and generates the most ad revenue as well. The Fox executives declined to estimate how much the cable and digital coverage would add to its take.

Fox has sold its broadcast and digital inventory separately, but Newman says “we’re seeing a healthy percentage of in-game advertisers participating in the streaming environment.”  Advertisers in the auto, mobile, consumer package goods and insurance businesses will run ads in both spaces.

Newman said Fox will also be creating original studio content about the Super Bowl that will be housed in the Super Bowl section of A few content sponsorship packages are still available, she says.

Fox will be engaging in social media around the game as well, and sponsors will be included in some of its social conversations, Newman says.

During the Super Bowl broadcast, a few advertisers have bought two-minute units. A handful have also bought time for 90-second messages. Autos will dominate the broadcast, with Ford sponsoring pregame, Chrysler halftime and General Motors post game.

So far this year, Fox’s NFL ratings are up 8%, putting them on track to be the highest since 1995. Mulcahy expects Super Bowl ratings to be strong as well.

He says he rooting for a matchup of the Mannings, pitting Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos against little brother Eli’s New York Giants. The Giants have not played well this season, but Mulcahy is still rooting for them. He adds that the Seattle Seahawks look like the strongest team and that having the Dallas Cowboys, perhaps the leagues’ most popular team at the top of the standings, is a good thing from a ratings point of view.

Having the game in the New York area will also add interest, especially because the game is being played in an open stadium in a cold-weather city. “If it snows in the third quarter, the numbers will be out of sight,” Mulcahy says.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.