Paramount Global is seeing a rush on advertising slots in its coming 2024 broadcast of Super Bowl LVIII, a bright spot in a bleak market for the TV business.
Paramount’s CBS is slated to broadcast the NFL’s next Big Game on Feb. 11 of next year from Las Vegas — the first time the football extravaganza has taken place there. Already, the company has sold a significant portion of prominent spots in the first half of the game, according to three people familiar with the matter, and a good chunk of the same in the third quarter.
“We have been telling clients, if you want Super Bowl — now!” says one media-buying executive. Buyers estimate that CBS could have sold at least 70% of its available inventory, and potentially more. To be sure, some chunk of that projection would come from advertisers who have multi-year sponsorship deals to support the event, but notching such a level of sell-out in July is more robust than typical.
Paramount Global declined to make executives available for comment.
Key to Paramount’s strategy, according to buyers, is not seeking a massive price increase for a Super Bowl slot. Buyers have indicated CBS is seeking $6.5 million or a little more for a 30-second spot, with prices per commercial lessening for clients who buy multiple ad berths. Fox sought between $6 million and $7 million for a 30-second commercial in its 2023 broadcast of the classic game.
The recent Super Bowl sales momentum puts a new spotlight on the durability of sports even as TV networks are facing tough economic headwinds. Ad commitments for the next year are expected to be down in the current “upfront” marketplace, when U.S. networks try to sell the bulk of their commercial inventory, and marketers are also roiled by concerns about a potential recession and the effects of the current Hollywood writers strike. A decision by the Screen Actors Guild to also go on strike, which could be announced Thursday, would only further empty the entertainment industry’s pipeline of new content that might lure sponsors.
Sports, however, doesn’t rely on the labors of the Hollywood creative community. And live games continue to fetch the big, simultaneous crowds that advertisers crave. Little wonder, then, that sports broadcasts have been among the few types of programming to generate more ad commitments than last year as the networks haggle with Madison Avenue. Most other types of content, including primetime broadcast TV, cable programming and digital content, have seen upfront commitments decline, according to four buying executives.
Fox, which aired Super Bowl LVII earlier this year, saw a similar rush for inventory in the 2022 upfront market, selling 95% of its inventory by September of last year. Early buying blitzes can be deceiving: As worries grew more heightened about a recession, Fox’s ad-sales executives had to scramble to unload the remaining 5%.
Fox Corp. said in March that it had secured approximately $600 million in gross advertising revenue for its broadcast of Super Bowl LVII, a record for the company. “The money came in late for Super Bowl advertising, so we had some nervous moments,” Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch told investors during a conference call. “But it will be a record Super Bowl for us in terms of total revenue and what we achieved for each spot.”
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