Ad Sellout Sets Revenue Record

NEW YORK NBC is reaching out to current and former network stars to help celebrate the peacock’s first Super Bowl in more than a decade.

In terms of advertising, NBC — as expected — said it has sold all 69 spots for the game. That established a new ad-revenue record for the event of $206 million.

Late-night comics Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey and former SNL star Will Ferrell are doing either live or taped pieces for Sunday’s six-hour pregame and/or the Super Bowl.

Producers said that every NBC family member who was asked was enthusiastic about helping out. NBC had a camera crew with Ferrell last week in New York, where the funnyman is on Broadway with his comic farewell to President Bush.

“It’s a diverse group,” producer Sam Flood said.

The halftime entertainment will be Bruce Springsteen, and Jennifer Hudson and others will be performing before kickoff.

NBC’s Super Bowl Sunday will kick off with an edition of Today at 9 a.m. Today co-host Matt Lauer will also have a live interview with President Barack Obama later in the day that Flood said is “going to be the centerpiece of the show.” Bob Costas will also interview Springsteen.

After an NFL Films-produced “Road to the Super Bowl,” the five-hour pregame show begins live from the teams’ locker rooms. Dan Patrick and Jerome Bettis will be with the Steelers; Tiki Barber will be with the Cardinals.

“We’ll get the feeling of what it’s like to show up and get ready for the Super Bowl,” Patrick said.

The ads went for somewhere between $2.4 million and $3 million. Even with the poor economy. Anheuser-Busch, which always buys several spots in the game, got the rock-bottom price of $2.4 million per ad, but NBC sports chairman Dick Ebersol said the beer maker paid more than $100,000 per spot than what it did last year.

Ebersol expressed relief that NBC was able to sell 85 percent of its inventory by Labor Day. That’s particularly important because the economy began to come apart in September, and NBC had just come back from an all-hands-on-deck effort to sell the Beijing Olympics, a huge ratings success.

“This has become a story because some people look at (Super Bowl ad sales) as a barometer of the U.S. economy,” Ebersol said. He allowed that “we’re all in for a tough ride” going forward in the sports and entertainment world after the Super Bowl, however.

Ebersol said a few of the ads address the problems in the American economy, with companies talking about how they can help. “And I’m sure there are a couple that will rub people the wrong way,” he said.

NBC has already dumped one ad from consideration, from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA had wanted to buy a spot but it was rejected by NBC because of the ad’s sexual content. When PETA asked for cuts that would make things acceptable, NBC apparently complied, but then PETA went public with the disagreement.