History Goes Long With Super Bowl Buy

Cable net to promote 'Swamp People' in big game

History is placing a big wager on the Super Bowl, plunking down millions for a 30-second spot in the NFL’s showcase game.

The high-flying cable network will air a promo for the unscripted series Swamp People, which returns for a third season on Thursday, Feb. 9. Per Nielsen live-plus-seven-day ratings data, Season 2 of Swamp People averaged 4.95 million total viewers, of which more than half (2.63 million) were members of the 18-49 demo.

Sports industry sources said History paid in the neighborhood of $3.5 million for the Swamp People ad, putting it in line with NBC’s going rate. While in-house network promos are a familiar presence—in last year’s game, Fox ran 26 spots for its prime-time programming (House, Glee, American Idol, The X Factor, et al.)—third-party networks rarely get a chance at making a Super Bowl buy. That said, NBCUniversal owns a 15 percent stake in History parent company A&E Television Networks.

NBC said that at least one latecomer paid as much as $4 million for a single Super Bowl spot. Super Bowl XLVI kicks off on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 6:25 p.m.

This marks the first time History has ponied up for a national Super Bowl spot. Last year, the network purchased a local ad in the New York and Los Angeles markets to promote Only in America With Larry the Cable Guy. The series premiered on Feb. 8, 2011, two days after Fox’s broadcast of Super Bowl XLV.

The Steelers-Packers brawl delivered an average audience of 111 million viewers, making it the most-watched telecast in TV history. And while the Only in America spot did big numbers in its two DMAs—New York notched a 42.6 overnight rating, while Los Angeles put up a 40.1—the enormity of the game’s overall deliveries seems to justify the price of a national spot in this year’s broadcast.

Last year’s local buy was only part of History’s Only in America strategy. The network ran display units for the series on Yahoo Sports from Feb. 3 through Feb. 11, 2011. Earlier in that same season, History bought up 50 percent of the available inventory on Yahoo’s NFL home page.

Thanks to the big media push, Only in America debuted to 4.11 million viewers, making it History’s all-time biggest first-quarter launch.

History’s media buying and planning are handled by Horizon Media.

Swamp People is History’s third most-watched original series, trailing only Pawn Stars and American Pickers. Pawn Stars throughout 2011 averaged 7.02 million L7 viewers, making it the fifth most popular program on basic cable. Pickers averaged 5.78 million.

History closed out 2011 ranked fifth among all cable networks in total prime time deliveries (1.99 million, up 21 percent versus the year-ago period) and adults 18-49 (894,000, up 18 percent). The network finished fourth among adults 25-54, growing 18 percent to 981,000.

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