It's hard work to sell 30 seconds for $4.5 million. But NBC says it overcame a "challenging ad sales marketplace" to sell all available slots during Super Bowl XLIX on Wednesday.
The three networks with NFL deals alternate hosting the big game and typically hold some spots back to the last minute when scarcity drives higher prices. Seth Winter, the executive vice president of advertising sales for NBC’s sports and media group told reporters Wednesday that all available ad units for the Super Bowl telecast and postgame had been sold out, and that only a handful of units remained for the pregame coverage. Winter added that all digital ad inventory had been sold as well.
“This was not the easiest exercise I’ve ever been through,” Winter said.
Fifteen first-time advertisers will have spots air during the big game this year, the highest total since 2000, when 19 newcomers, many of them Silicon Valley startups like Pets.com, debuted spots. This year, some of the new advertisers, including the adhesive brand Loctite and the foot cream brand Jublia, have been the source of media intrigue.
“I don’t look at Loctite or Jublia as anything other than a premium advertiser,” Winter said.
Both brands certainly had money to spend. NBC's asking price was $4.5 million per 30 seconds of air time this year, a not-insignificant increase from the $4.2 million advertisers paid in 2014. Last-minute advertisers are more likely to pay full-freight, while returning advertisers or those buying many spots would get a discount.
Winter told reporters that the network had not been forced to lower its price point. “We’ve been able to maintain the premium pricing we set out to,” he said.
Eighteen of the advertisers that bought airtime during the game also opted to buy digital ads that will appear on NBC's livestream. Winter told reporters that NBC more than tripled the amount of digital revenue it generated in 2012, the last time the network broathe Super Bowl.
Though Winter enthusiastically pointed out that NBC had sold out all of its digital inventory for the game, he declined to get into specifics about how many units he had sold, what they cost, or how much total revenue the digital ads had generated, saying only that they had amassed an amount in the eight figure range.
"The issue is how many people are watching the stream," Winter told reporters. "We can’t monetize it in the same manner as we could on-air."
NBC begins its coverage of Super Bowl XLIX at 12:00pm, on Sunday, Feb. 1.