NBCUniversal Still Has Some Spots for Sale in Super Bowl

Dan Lovinger NBCUniversal
Dan Lovinger talks ad sales during NBCU presentation

With two of the biggest events in sports coming in February, NBCUniversal said it has commercials remaining to sell in Super Bowl LVI and still needs to do some work to meet its ad-sales goals for the Beijing Winter Olympics.

During a presentation on Wednesday, Dan Lovinger, who was recently promoted to president, NBCU Ad Sales and Partnerships, said Olympic sales were pacing “exactly the same” as they had before the Pyeongchang, South Korea, games four years ago.

“We still have some work to be done between now and the end of the games, but we feel really confident that we’re going to achieve all of our goals,” he said.

NBC has about 100 advertisers signed up for the games. Returning advertisers are spending slightly more than they did four years ago, “which seems to indicate that they have faith in the franchise and they’re happy to be back,” Lovinger said.

There are also about 40 new advertisers in the Olympics and digital revenue is up double digits.

He said that the U.S. diplomatic boycott of the games hasn’t had much of an effect on sponsors, who get a positive rub-off from supporting the games and the athletes.

On February 13, NBC will start the day with Olympic events, switch to Super Bowl pregame programming, show the championship game, then return to the Olympics--something that hasn't happened before.

In terms of the Super Bowl, there seemed to be little change in the situation since NBC last updated its sales progress in September, when a handful of spots remained unsold. 

“We tend to hold a few units in our back pocket until the final game matchup is announced,” Lovinger said. Some matchups create better opportunities for creative executions, he said. “That optionality is there and we’ll be able to react with the last few units.”

Since the last time NBC had the Super Bowl in 2018, prices per 30-second spot are up about 20%, he said. Units have sold for as much as $6.5 million.

“If you're looking to reach 100 million people in an evening. There's really only one place you can go and that's the Super Bowl,” he said.

Lovinger noted that NFL football has been strong this year, especially relative to other programming. The economy is holding up and consumers are confident. “When consumers consume, advertisers advertise,” he said.

This year, movie studios are advertising again. Gambling and crypto marketers are stepping up their activity and old standby categories such as automotive, quick-serve restaurants and beverages have been spending, he said.

In September, NBC said it had sold all but five spots for the Super Bowl and was holding onto those on purpose in order to find the best ways to monetize them.

NBC said it sold one 30-second commercial for $6.5 million.

Fox last year said it is taking advantage of the strong market by beginning to sell commercials in the Super Bowl it will broadcast in 2023. ■ 

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.