Touchdown: Fox Sells Out In-Game Super Bowl Commercials
Pre-kick, post-gun spots still available
Fox said it has sold out all of the in-game commercials available during Super Bowl LVII, overcoming a slow economy and the collapse of the crypto market.
Some of the 30-second commercials during the February 12 game sold for more than $7 million, people familiar with the situation said, with most costing between $6 million and $7 million.
The spots give advertisers a chance to be seen by what is usually television’s largest audience each year as the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Philadelphia Eagles. More than 150 million people across platforms watched Super Bowl LVI, according to iSpot.tv.
Last year, in-game advertising in the Super Bowl generated $578.36 million in revenue for NBC, up $143.8 million from the previous year, according to Kantar, which tracks ad sales. The average cost of a 30-second spot in a Super Bowl LVI was $6.5 million. Including pregame and postgame ad revenue, NBC raked in $636 million during the Super Bowl in 2022. (NBCUniversal said the Super Bowl brought in $519 million.)
This year, there are still a couple of commercials available for a last-minute sale in the pre-kick segment just before the games starts, and one and a half units — a 30-second spot and a 15-second spot — in the post-gun, or the first national break immediately following the game, according to Fox Sports executive VP for sales Mark Evans.
“The official sellout was somewhere in the middle of last week,” Evans said. “What I can say now, is we’re focusing on overtime, which if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, but we’re still prepared should the game go to overtime,” Evans said. “We were, fortunately, the only network to ever have an overtime Super Bowl game (opens in new tab), in Houston, which I was very much in the middle of. We learned a lot of lessons from that game, so we handle overtime a little bit differently.”
Before the National Football League season started in September, Fox said it was 95% sold out of its Super Bowl inventory — earlier than usual. Evans said there were a number of factors that kept Fox from selling out the game until last week.
Evans explained that once an advertiser agrees to buy a Super Bowl spot, it owns it. Unless Fox has another buyer lined up or there’s an “extraordinary circumstance,” Fox will put that money across the rest of its portfolio rather than return it. But this year, a company in the crypto business that had bought multiple spots blew up and “more or less ceased to exist,” creating extra inventory for Fox to sell. As CNN noted (opens in new tab), four crypto or crypto-affiliated companies advertised in the Super Bowl a year ago. Of them, FTX collapsed altogether while Coinbase, Crypto.com and eToro "have fought against industry headwinds. (opens in new tab)"
Late Sales Gains
As the economy turned south in the fall, “the enthusiasm to spend $7 million on 30 seconds waned a little bit,” Evans said. “As things have now settled down a bit and people feel better about the economic trajectory, a few of those units that were available picked up in earnest the last week.”
In some cases those last spots were bought by companies that had already bought 30-second or 60-second slots, but wanted to expand them because they had hired high-priced talent to appear in their commercials and wanted to double down on that investment, Evans said.
For this year’s game, Anheuser-Busch InBev, brewer of Budweiser and other beers, gave up its exclusivity, so multiple brands will appear during the game, a departure from past seasons.
As usual, autos, telecommunications companies and salty snack foods will be well-represented in the game. Other big spenders include movie studios and streaming services, Evans said.
According to Kantar, buying a Super Bowl commercial has been a good investment.
Kantar’s Super Bowl LVI Ad Effectiveness Report found that 2022 Super Bowl ads delivered an average ROI of $4.60 per dollar spent, with ads for T-Mobile, Verizon Communications, AT&T, Disney Plus, Sam’s Club and General Motors achieving the best results.
“Telcom had the strongest financial return for their ads in Super Bowl LVI,“ Kantar partner for brand & marketing ROI Alfredo Troncoso said. “All three advertisers — T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon — saw double-digit ROIs for their ads. Financial services had a very soft performance in 2022, mainly driven by the crypto ads that did not achieve strong ROIs across the board.”
Last year, the Super Bowl halftime show alone generated $32 million in ad revenue.
A recent Kantar study found that of people who regularly watch the Super Bowl, 26% do so specifically to watch the halftime show, which this year will be sponsored by Apple Music, replacing Pepsi. In 2022, the Super Bowl LVI halftime show had more than 120 million viewers. Interest in the halftime show has grown since 2021, when viewers said watching commercials was a bigger reason for watching the Super Bowl than the halftime show.
Inclusive Ads Break Through
While Super Bowl ads offer a captive audience, promoting diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) in Super Bowl creative can deeply impact a brand’s return on investment (ROI). According to Kantar's Super Bowl Creative Evolution – DEI in the Big Game 2023 Report, 29% of respondents claimed they would stop using brands that do not promote inclusion and diversity during the Super Bowl. The majority also expected talent in ads to be inclusive and diverse — especially through inclusion of people of color, women, and younger generations.
In 2022, 89% of Super Bowl ads featured one or more underrepresented groups and 40% of ads had three or more groups represented. While there was greater racial representation, other groups including LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities are still underrepresented in lead roles, as well as inclusion of women, Kantar said.
“Having more diversity in Super Bowl advertising is part of a larger trend where brands are participating more in social and cultural dialogue — which is what consumers want,” Kantar creative solutions lead Kerry Benson said. “This new brave and purpose-oriented world requires brands to lean into an expanded sphere of social dialogue, which may require a point of view about politically polarizing subjects or pre-existing controversies.” ■
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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.