Study: Super Bowl Ad Time Soars

In accordance with its stature as America’s greatest secular holiday, the Super Bowl has been super-sized. Over the course of the last decade, ad time in the NFL’s showcase game has soared 27 percent, as commercial spots and network promos have expanded from a total of 82 in 2001 to 104 in Super Bowl XLIV.
 
According to research from Kantar Media, CBS’ Jan. 28, 2001, presentation of Super Bowl XXXV featured 40 minutes and 15 seconds of commercial messaging; but for a few retrograde years, the allotment of spots has steadily increased.
 
Last year’s Saints-Colts battle on CBS was punctuated by 47 minutes and 50 seconds of ads and network promos. In terms of quantifiable airtime, that 2,870-second load marked an 18 percent time differential versus the Giants-Ravens blowout 10 years earlier.
 
Viewers who tuned in for the last 10 Super Bowl broadcasts were exposed to a whopping 425 minutes of commercial time, per Kantar, which estimated the total value of that load at around $1.62 billion.
 
That the average price of a Super Bowl spot keeps increasing is old news to even the most casual football fan, although the rate of change over the last decade is worth noting. In 2001, a 30-second spot cost around $2.2 million, which led CBS to rake in $136.4 million in ad sales revenue. Two years ago, the cost of reaching the 98.7 million consumers who tuned in for the Steelers-Cardinals showdown was pegged at an historic $3 million a pop, an increase of 36 percent from 2001 levels.

As paid advertising has steadily bulked up, the same principle has held true with network promos. Back in 2006, ABC ran 7 minutes and 20 seconds’ worth of in-house promos, accounting for nearly 17 percent of its total load. At an estimated $2.5 million per 30 seconds, that inventory was worth some $36.7 million.
 

The all-time high-water mark for in-house promos run during a Super Bowl broadcast came a year later, as CBS’ coverage of the Colts 29-17 victory over the Bears was studded through with 9 minutes and 35 seconds of ads for Tiffany Network programming. At just under $2.4 million per :30, that exposure was worth around $45.7 million.
 
As was first reported by AdweekMedia, Fox’s Feb. 6, 2011, broadcast of Super Bowl XLV will be characterized by a record number of ads for automobile manufacturers. In deals that were for the most part hashed out in sync with the 2010-11 upfront, one-third of the network’s in-game avails will be given over to the likes of General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Audi, BMW, Hyundai and Volkswagen.
 
Last year NBC ran five-and-a-half minutes of car and truck ads, which brought in $29.7 million, or 15 percent of the Peacock’s overall take of $205.2 million. This year’s haul should easily surpass that record amount.
 
Along with automotive sponsors, beer, soft drinks and movie studios are responsible for the lion’s share of Super Bowl ad dollars.
 
In the period spanning 2001-2010, Anheuser-Busch InBev has been the biggest Super Bowl booster, investing $235 million in promotional dollars. PepsiCo ranks second ($170.8 million), while the Walt Disney Co. placed a distant third ($70.8 million).
 
Immediately following the live broadcast from Dallas, Fox will air a special episode of its musical comedy Glee. Last year, CBS took the wraps off its new reality series Undercover Boss; with an average delivery of 22.9 million viewers, the premiere was the most-watched post-Super Bowl show since ABC drew 37.9 million viewers with the episode of Grey’s Anatomy that bowed in the wake of the Steelers-Seahawks scrap.
 
Per Nielsen, NBC boasts the all-time highest delivery for a post-Super Bowl program. The broadcaster’s special one-hour installment of Friends delivered a staggering 52.9 million viewers after Super Bowl XXX in 1996. Featuring an array of guest stars such as Julia Roberts, Brooke Shields and Jean-Claude Van Damme, “The One After the Super Bowl” also marked the largest audience for any episode of Friends. (The May 6, 2004, finale averaged 52.5 million viewers.)