In-game Super Bowl advertising – commercials taking place between opening kick-off and the final whistle - generated $2.59 billion of network advertising sales between 2007 and 2016, making it one of the most valuable sports franchises in the US.
According to an analysis by Kantar Media, the more than 130 marketers that have bought into the Super Bowl over the past decade have driven substantial growth in everything from average costs to revenue top the total number of commericals run during the event.
The NFL is counting on Super Bowl LI, taking place in Houston on February 5th, to again break records despite a regular season that was plagued with reports of falling TV ratings and stadium attendance. Clearly, the Super Bowl still offers marketers a unique opportunity to earn the attention of more than 100 million consumers with an expensive TV commercial.
Pricing on the rise
The average price for a 30-second advertisement has doubled, reaching $4.8 million in 2016 from $2.4 million in 2007. It’s the most expensive commercial time on television by far. (The next two most costly properties in 2016 were also football games - the NFC Championship at $2.2 million per :30 and the AFC Championship at $1.8 million). Demand for ad time is pointing towards even higher rates for the 2017 game.
Ad pricing is negotiated and therefore individual marketers can pay different amounts. Variables affecting the actual rate include the amount of commercial time purchased, where spots appear in the game and whether the advertiser opts for a larger package that includes units in the pre-game and/or post-game coverage.
Ad revenues shoot up
The escalating cost of commercial time has resulted in some staggering figures. In 2016, sponsors paid nearly $370 million for in-game messages. When pre- and post-game programming is included, the total swells to $445 million for the one-day sporting event. That’s nearly equal to the combined ad revenue of the four major broadcast networks in an average week for their entire programming schedules. And it exceeds the full-year ad expenditures on some national cable TV networks.
More and more commercials
The volume of commercial time during the game also continues to creep upwards. The 2016 contest contained 49 minutes, 35 seconds of ad messages between the opening kickoff and the end of the game, making it the second-most cluttered broadcast in the 50 year history of the event. The tally includes commercials from paying sponsors, the NFL and promotional announcements from the network for its own shows. The latter typically accounts for about 15 percent of total ad time and 25-30 percent of all spots in the game.
From 2007 to 2016, Super Bowl ad time increased by 15 percent, from 43:05 to 49:35. During the same period, the volume of commercial time in an average regular season game on a broadcast network has increased by 3 percent from 40:31 to 41:41.
The five biggest players
The largest advertising positions in the Super Bowl tend to be held by well-known marketers. In a typical year, the top five spenders account for about 30 percent of total ad revenue.
Anheuser-Busch In Bev was the leading advertiser in 2016 with expenditures of $33.6 million. The beer maker has placed in the top two of the annual rankings for at least 35 consecutive years and has invested more than $520 million in the game (not adjusted for inflation) during this period. It also holds the official beer sponsorship for the NFL through 2022, so its dominance is not surprising.
Fiat Chrysler and Pepsico were tied for second in 2016 with spending of $19.2 million. Fiat Chrysler has been a Top Two advertiser in each of the past five years.
Cars, movies and food
In recent years the Super Bowl has been a popular destination for a number of different automotive, movie studio and food companies, making these the most populous and competitive ad categories.
Automakers have had the largest footprint each year since 2010, a stretch that coincides with increasing sales of new vehicles and a steady stream of marketing launches for new or redesigned models. In 2016 auto manufacturers accounted for 23 percent of all ad expenditures in the game.
Movie studios use the Super Bowl to promote upcoming theatrical releases that have strong box office potential, thus justifying the high price of commercial time. The volume of advertising in this category can swing sharply from year-to-year because of its dependency on studio’s release schedules.
The Food & Candy category (which excludes beverage brands) had a major presence in the Super Bowl in the late 90s before tailing off. In the past several years it has made a comeback as a variety of candy and specialty food brands have purchased time.
Source: Kantar, Kantar Media