Super Bowl Spots Hit $3 Mil.

NEW YORK NBC is selling Super Bowl spots in next year’s game for $3 million per 30-second unit, sources familiar with the situation said. That’s about 11 percent higher than the average $2.7 million that Fox commanded for this year’s game.

While Fox sources indicated it received $3 million for one or two spots late in the selling process leading up to the February 2008 telecast, NBC has just begun selling units (outside of multiyear packages) and could achieve close to an average of $3 million per unit. So far, 30 percent of the inventory in the 2009 game has been sold, mostly in multiyear deals struck earlier, with clients such as Anheuser-Busch, which purchases time in the game years in advance. And it buys close to 10 spots per game so its prices are lower per unit than sponsors buying one or two ads.

“Right now $3 million is the benchmark,” for individual units, said a source familiar with the numbers.

Separately, NBC has wrapped up its prime-time broadcast network upfront, selling 80 percent of its available inventory for $1.9 billion. By contrast, a year ago it sold about 77 percent of its available time in the upfront for about $1.8 billion. Sources said two factors helped NBC achieve better results this year, including the fact that it announced its new schedule a month earlier than normal and it started talking to advertisers earlier.

Also, one source said advertisers were budgeting more of their total ad budgets for the upfront market to lock in better pricing than they believe they would achieve during the scatter market, which occurs after the new fall season begins.

Meanwhile, NBC is poised to begin doing deals in the cable upfront — it owns Bravo, USA and CNBC, among other networks. Sources said cable ad budgets are up higher than expected — with double-digit increases (on a percentage basis) expected over last year.

Overall, NBC is projecting it will take in an estimated $4.2 billion in upfront commitments across all its broadcast and cable properties this year, including Spanish-language network Telemundo.