By Barry Janoff
January 9, 2013: Would you pay $4 million for a 30-second TV spot, even if it had the potential to reach 111 million or move viewers?
At least one company has paid that figure, and possible more, according to Les Moonves, president/CEO for CBS, the network that will be broadcasting Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3.
"We have sold out all [TV] spots, we have sold spots for $4 million," Moonves (photo, left) said during a media event in the studio of The NFL Today at CBS Broadcast Center in New York on Tuesday (Jan. 8). "The $4 million is the highest ever paid for a Super Bowl."
When asked which companies spent $4 million — most spots have been going for an average of $3.8 million, according to industry analysts — Moonves smiled and said, "We're not going to tell you."
Moonves also said that local ads that will run just in the New York area sold for $1 million.
Despite setting what CBS called a Super Bowl record, the $4 million price tag could be topped as early as next season during Super Bowl XLVIII, which will air on Fox. It will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, just miles from New York City, when for the first time the Super Bowl will be held in an open-air venue in the northern U.S.
Farther down the road, marketers already are eyeing the historic Super Bowl L in 2016, which will be broadcast on CBS and should again raise the bar for the cost of 30-second spots. The game will be played at a venue to be selected by the NFL this May from between the Miami Dolphins' Sun Life Stadium in South Florida and the San Francisco 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara, which is scheduled to open for the 2015 NFL season.
Addressing the fact that it took CBS the same amount of time to sell all of its Super Bowl slots as NBC needed for Super Bowl XLVI (30-second spots averaged $3.5 million) but longer than Fox for Super Bowl XLV (30-second spots averaged $3 million), Moonves said, "Our strategy for selling ad space was always to sell [them all]. We knew we would do that. But you can always sell faster at a cheaper price."
Despite what he called a full roster, Moonves said CBS would find room for any movie studios that wanted to tout their 2013 films during the Super Bowl broadcast. The Super Bowl has traditionally been a launching pad for many blockbuster films, and it would be unprecedented for no studios to buy in this year.
Among the movies scheduled to hit screens in 2013 are Oz: The Great And Powerful (Disney), Iron Man 3 (Marvel/Paramount), Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount), Man Of Steel (Warner Bros.), The Lone Ranger (Disney), The Wolverine (Marvel/20th Century) and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate).
"If a movie studio comes in — and they tend to come in during the last couple of weeks [before the game] — we will find room for them," said Moonves.
"If a movie studio comes in — and they tend to come in during the last couple of weeks [before the game] — we will find room for them."
He was being facetious, but only to a point, when he spoke about how much CBS would charge these Hollywood Johhny-come-lately studios. "If one of those movie companies wants to come in and spend $5 million, $6 million, we will find room for you." Later during the conference, Moonves laughed when the topic again came up. "If [Disney] wants to come in, we'll find room . . . at a reduced rate," he said with a smile.
Although CBS would not confirm as much, executives did talk about a pre-Super Bowl event in which the respective broadcast network has the opportunity to interview the President of the United States in the White House. "It is a tradition," said Sean McManus (photo, right), chairman for CBS Sports, "and I can't imagine that President Obama would pass on the opportunity."
Regarding the fact that a team has never played in a Super Bowl in their home venue — the closest was at Super Bowl XIX when Stanford University Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif., about 20 miles south of San Francisco, hosted and the 49ers defeated the Miami Dolphins, 38-16 — McManus said, "Getting the [home] market is nice, but the storyline is more important. Getting a good game is more important."
Moonves had the best comedic line of the event when the topic switched to the Super Bowl halftime show, which this year will feature Beyoncé.
"She's at the height of her musical career, so we're really excited," Moonves said. He then smiled and added, "But we actually wanted Janet Jackson," referring to the infamous halftime show during Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004, also on CBS, when Jackson and Justin Timberlake performed "Rock Your Body," during which the now legendary "wardrobe malfunction" saw Jackson reveal her breast on TV.
Legal action regarding the incident was not resolved until this past June, when the Supreme Court declined an appeal by the Federal Communications Commission which claimed that CBS knew the incident would take place and should be penalized $500,000.
Moonves was equally excited, but much more grounded, when he spoke about the platform coverage that CBS will provide for more than a week prior to the Super Bowl.
Among others, CBSSports.com will stream the game and halftime show live, the just launched CBS Sports Radio Network will provide 70 hours of live coverage, the CBS Sports Network will have more than 50 hours of live coverage and shows such as The CBS Evening News, Face the Nation and The Talk will be on-site in New Orleans, where Super Bowl XLVII will be played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
"This entire corporation is getting behind this event in a way I don't think has ever been done before," said Moonves. "We will cover the Super Bowl like never before. I am pretty proud how the company has come together."
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