The final gun has sounded for Super Bowl advertisers. Now, the real off-the-field action begins.
Fox has sold out all of its TV broadcast slots roughly two months before the Feb. 2 football championship in New Jersey, the company announced Wednesday. The sellout comes about one month earlier than did CBS' sellout announcement for the last Super Bowl.
"It's the worst-kept secret," says Neil Mulcahy, executive vice president of Fox Sports. "The demand has been incredible. Having the game in the New York market this year meant a lot to people wanting to be there."
Fox Sports also will live stream the Super Bowl on its various digital platforms, including FoxSports.com.
While Fox won't say what it charged for the broadcast ad space, top media buyers estimate that some 30-second slots sold upwards of $4 million. That's $200,000 more than the average $3.8 million per slot that CBS took in for its 2013 broadcast.
In a still-wobbly economy, the early sell-out signals that advertisers not only like the New York market, but are still more than willing to invest big-time in an event that guarantees a mass audience - particularly an event that is so multimedia friendly.
"The Super Bowl is a unique TV event," says Jon Swallen, chief media research officer at Kantar Media, which monitors media ad placements. "With advertisers now routinely building integrated marketing campaigns around the Super Bowl spots, locking down commercial time early fits in with the longer lead times for planning these complex campaigns."
About a dozen major advertisers already have announced plans to return to the game, including Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi and Hyundai. General Motors, which was not in the 2013 contest but has been in past Super Bowls, has said it's returning to the 2014 game. Among the new advertisers are Intuit and Nestlé's Butterfinger, which will promote a new peanut butter cup-stuffed with Butterfinger.
Once again, auto advertisers will air long-form commercials, including a pair of two-minute commercials. Mulcahy declined to state who would air the two-minute spots, but Chrysler is expected to air at least one of them.
There will be fewer major motion picture advertisers in this Super Bowl, Mulcahy says. "That's the only category where there's anything less." He says he expects fewer major film releases are due in the spring.
But the Super Bowl may have faced some ad competition from the Winter Olympic Games, which begin just days after the Super Bowl. Subway, for example, which had two commercials in the most recent Super Bowl, says it's opting for the Olympics this go-round.
"The (Super Bowl) pricing this year was very, very aggressive," says Tony Pace, chief marketing officer at Subway. "The pricing has gone crazy." Also, Pace says, Subway prefers the Olympics because "shared family viewing doesn't happen much."
But Mulcahy strongly insists that the Olympics presented no competition and "did not impede our sales."
Announced Super Bowl Advertisers for 2014:
General Motors (Chevrolet)
Source USA TODAY research