NEW YORK NBC is closing in on a Super Bowl ad sellout, reducing its inventory of remaining spots to a deuce.
In a Wednesday conference call, Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics, said the network sold two of its final four ads for Sunday's Steelers-Cardinals finale. "Considering the state of the economy in the United States, we couldn't be any more thrilled with where we are," Ebersol said. "As of [Tuesday], we had four spots to sell. I'm told within the last few hours two of those four have sold, so now we're down to two spots unsold in the game."
Ebersol reiterated his assertion that NBC had sold "a large number" of Super Bowl XLIII spots for the original asking price of $3 million, which should bring the broadcaster's total haul above the $200 million mark. "Clearly the Super Bowl experience will bring about the largest gross income for television coverage of the Super Bowl," he said.
Earlier this week, Ebersol said that NBC had sold about a dozen spots at the base rate, or about 20 percent of the available 67. The lion's share of inventory has traded "in the high $2 millions," which translates to $2.8 million or $2.9 million, or about 5 to 7 percent higher than Fox's Super Bowl XLII base rate of $2.7 million.
Last year, Fox took in a record $186.3 million on the Super Bowl, per TNS Media Intelligence.
"I know that everybody wants to turn this into a melodrama about the sales," Ebersol said. "This is an extraordinary story against the backdrop of this economy ... And an unbelievable story by the sales guys who had the smarts to start selling this thing last [spring]."
While commercial inventory linked to the four-hour pre-game festivities has been a slow sell, Ebersol said the cultural significance of the Super Bowl necessitates a lengthy lead-in. "There is no day in all of American life where we have this kind of communal experience," he said. "This is the one time all year where every ad has people leaning forward in their seats. ... So we're filling that curiosity throughout the day."
Further evidence that the economy is in a cold, dark place: direct-response marketer Cash4Gold.com, the service that buys old jewelry from people looking for a quick infusion of greenbacks, announced Thursday that it has snapped up one of the last remaining Super Bowl spots. The ad stars old-school pitchman Ed McMahon and erstwhile rap artist/Internet entrepreneur MC Hammer.
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