Super Bowl ad sales: Solid but not as strong
Fox lags behind where CBS was, with more than a dozen spots still left
December 13, 2016
Super Bowl ad sales aren’t quite as strong this year as they were last, when CBS was already sold out of inventory by December.
While Fox is asking for and getting a record $5 million for a 30-second ad – a bump that happens every year – the network has been moving inventory more slowly than in 2015.
The game is about 90 percent sold out, according to multiple reports, with more than a dozen spots left.
Last year, CBS had sold out of the majority of its inventory in early November, which is on par with the past few years, when the NFL was in high demand.
But Fox’s sales this fall are on pace with four or five years ago, when the economy was in worse shape and advertisers were willing to hold out.
So why the change this year?
It’s likely a combination of several different factors, one of which is, yes, those declining NFL ratings.
Buyers say it’s not a huge concern to advertisers. However, there is more of a wait-and-see attitude about the game this year.
Media people believe the Super Bowl could post another all-time high if the right teams make the game – namely the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots, the league’s most popular teams and the ones with the best records.
If they end up in the Super Bowl and there are any spots left once the matchup is solidified, they’ll sell out fast.
But if a lower-echelon team makes a surprise run, there will be less interest in the remaining inventory. After a down season, there’s no reason to think the NFL will revive in the postseason with less-than-ideal matchups.
Another reason for the slower ad sales is the economy.
While 2016 was a strong year for advertising, it was also a political and Olympic year with an outstanding first quarter that helped pace the full year ahead of 2015. Spending slowed during the second half of the year, and there’s some uncertainty heading into 2017 because of the impending change at the White House.
Advertisers despise uncertainty and often hold back their dollars to spend later in the year, once they have a better idea of how people are feeling about buying their goods.
Finally, there are some advertisers who have decided to sit out the game or go in another direction with their ad budgets.
Frito-Lay, for instance, has decided to forego the Super Bowl after advertising Doritos products in it for years. Toyota will also sit out the February game. And Go Daddy, which skipped this year’s game, may do so again.
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