By Barry Janoff
January 19, 2016: The NFL has for the past half-century been building momentum for Super Bowl 50, which will culminate with the game on Feb. 7 in Levi's Stadium, to air on CBS.
The golden anniversary Super Bowl itself was supported by a year-long marketing effort from the NFL and partners that targeted not just football fans but consumers nationwide (earning a Top Sports Marketer of the Year honor from NYSportsJournalism en route).
No small wonder, then, that the Super Bowl has proven itself to be one of the most valuable properties in sports history.
From Super Bowl XL (2006) through Super Bowl XLIX (2015), the Big Game has generated $2.38 billion in network ad sales from more than 130 marketers, buoyed by the fact that the average rate for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl broadcast has increased by 76% during that time.
During Super Bowl XLIX last February, won by the New England Patriots over the Seattle Seahawks, 28-24, NBC charged upward of $4.4 million for a 30-second spot and generated a Super Bowl broadcast record of $345.4 million, according to marketing, research and consulting firm Kantar Media, New York.
That was up from $331.8 million in TV ad revenue during the broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII (2014), when Fox charged upward of $4 million for 30-second spots. The game, in which the Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos, 43-8, was played in MetLife Stadium (home for the New York Giants and New York Jets).
TV ad revenue is projected to set a new record during Super Bowl 50, for which CBS has charged upward of $5 million for 30-second spots for the game in Levi's Stadium (home for the San Francisco 49ers).
Back during Super Bowl XL, ABC charged what now seems like a relatively cost-efficient $2.5 million for a 30-second spot.
The past six Super Bowls "have been the most ad-saturated in history, each containing more than 47 minutes of commercial time," according to Kantar Media, a trend the company said is likely to continue in 2016.
This includes paying sponsors, commercial messages from the NFL and promotional announcements from the network for its own shows. The latter typically accounts for about 15% of all ad time and 25%-30% of all spots in the game, per Kantar.
Over the past 10 years, the top five Super Bowl advertisers have spent $745 million on network advertising during the game, accounting for 31% of total advertising revenue.
Anheuser-Busch InBev and PepsiCo have been the leading advertisers, followed by Coca-Cola, Chrysler and General Motors.
Anheuser-Busch has committed to three minutes of air time during Super Bowl 50 — including the "A1" spot, which airs immediately following the opening kickoff — with media buys for brands Bud, NFL official beer partner Bud Light, Michelob Ultra and Super Bowl rookie Shock Top.
"People have come to expect groundbreaking creative from our brands during the Super Bowl, and this year is no exception," Jorn Socquet, vp-U.S. marketing for Anheuser-Busch, said in a statement.
Anheuser-Busch has purchased Super Bowl airtime for Budweiser since 1975 and has run Bud Light ads "for more than 30 years," according to the beer maker. This will be the brewer's 28th consecutive year with exclusive national broadcast category rights.
Pepsi will be the presenting partner for the Super Bowl Halftime Show for the fourth consecutive year — featuring (to date) Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars — playing to an audience that would be seeking to top the 118.5 million who watched the mini-concert last year starring Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott.
Coke and GM have also committed its return to the game on Feb. 7.
The automotive category has had the largest footprint at the Super Bowl, according to Kantar. During Super Bowl XLIX, nine different nameplates spent nearly $97 million dollars and accounted for more than a fifth of total ad time in the game.
This year's roster includes Acura, Buick (GM), Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mini (BMW) and Toyota.
In 2015, eight Super Bowl advertisers put more than 10% of their full-year media budgets into the game.
According to Kantar, the most-leveraged sponsor in the 2015 Super Bowl was Mophie, which manufactures battery chargers for mobile devices. Its $4.4 million ad buy represented 47% of its annual measured ad expenditures.
According to Kantar Media’s analysis of paid commercials shown during the game, hashtags have overtaken URLs as the most popular call-to-action. Last year, 57% of non-promo ads (34 of 60) contained a hash tag and slightly less a half had a URL.
Also per Kantar, in the past two Super Bowls, 37% (2015) and 40% (2014) of brand ads were 60 seconds or longer. By comparison, the normal proportion of long-form ads on broadcast networks is about 6%.
The World Series and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship are two other high-profile sports events that attract significant interest from TV advertisers.
Although comparing the Super Bowl to the the World Series — which can run four to seven games — and March Madness Final Four two semi-final games and the national championship, is not on par, Kantar noted that the Super Bowl "continues to pull away from the Fall Classic and March Madness" in terms of yearly TV ad revenue.
The World Series TV ad revenue was nearly $269 million in 2011 during a seven-game series won by the St. Louis Cardinals over the Texas Rangers, which actually topped the $228 million TV ad revenue during Super Bowl XLV (2011).
The past six Super Bowls "have been the most ad-saturated in history, each containing more than 47 minutes of commercial time."
The Super Bowl numbers then continued to climb (Super Bowl XLVI $262.5 million, Super Bowl XLVII $292 million, Super Bowl XLVIII $331.8 million), per Kantar.
But MLB's Fall Classic saw a major drop in 2012 to $153 million when the San Francisco Giants swept the Detroit Tigers in four games, and has lagged behind the Super Bowl ever since ($247.6 million in 2013 during the Boston Red Sox' six-game win over St. Louis; $257 million in 2014 during San Francisco's seven-game win over the Kansas City Royals, $240 million this past season when the Royals beat the New York Mets in five games.)
The NCAA Men's Final Four TV ad revenue was $169.9 million in 2011, $183.8 million in 2012, $198.5 million in 2013, $182.1 million in 2014 and $193.5 million last March.
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