Record Super Bowl Sell for CBS

CBS on Sunday night rewrote the record book with its presentation of Super Bowl XLIV, running 48 minutes of ad time between the opening kickoff and the final gun.

Per Kantar Media analysis, CBS’ Super Bowl broadcast featured 47 minutes and 50 seconds of commercial messaging and network promos, topping the previous high-water mark by 2 minutes and 45 seconds. Last year, NBC laid claim to a pair of records, including total viewers (98.7 million) and commercial time (45:05). CBS eclipsed both milestones, drawing TV’s all-time largest audience with 106.5 million viewers, per Nielsen estimates.

Clocking in at 39:25, sponsor messaging accounted for 83 percent of CBS’ total inventory, while network promos for series such as NCIS: Los Angeles, CSI and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains made up the remainder.

All told, 41 advertisers bought time in this year’s big game, of which 22 percent were first-time sponsors. Among the rookies in the lineup were: Google, Electronic Arts, Focus on the Family, Papa John’s and Qualcomm’s Flo TV service.

As was the case a year ago, dot-coms represented the leading category, as eight different online businesses bought time in Super Bowl XLIV. Automotive took second, as one American manufacturer (Chrysler) and five foreign carmakers (Audi, Hyundai, Kia Motors, Honda and Volkswagen) invested in the annual media spectacle.

Auto spots accounted for 5:30 in air time, nearly doubling last year’s three minutes of car spend.

Beer took the bronze, thanks to another major commitment by perennial sponsor Anheuser-Busch InBev. The Budweiser brand was celebrated in three spots, while Bud Light appeared in four distinct executions. A-B also ponied up for a 15-second spot in support of its light-beer product, Budweiser Select 55, and threw down for a 30-second Michelob Ultra ad.

As was the case with auto, suds also soaked up 5:30 in air time, per Kantar.


A conspicuous dip in movie promos was evident this year, as a handful of studios (Universal, Paramount, Walt Disney Co., CBS Films, Overture Films) lined up for time in CBS’ Super Bowl broadcast. The network didn’t screen a single trailer-length movie promo; as such, total air time added up to just 2:45, a 61 percent drop from last year’s 7 minutes of film teasers.

While Kantar did not provide an estimate of CBS’ overall ad sales revenue take for last night’s game, given the fluctuation in pricing (between $2.5 million and $2.8 million per spot), plus the additional inventory load, the network likely matched or slightly exceeded the $213 million NBC booked against Super Bowl XLIII.

CBS closed out its last piece of real estate on Monday, Feb. 1, just six days before the Colts and Saints squared off in Miami. A year ago, NBC still had two 30-second spots on its hands just 48 hours before kickoff.