When it comes to television ratings and viewership on other platforms, the National Football League is a league of its own. Of the 25 most-watched sporting events of 2023, which began on the penultimate Sunday of the NFL’s regular season, professional football accounted for 23 with Super Bowl LVII leading the way with more than 114 million viewers and a 40.4 rating.
For advertisers who are looking to get as many eyeballs on their spots as humanly possible, the Super Bowl represents a guaranteed audience and offers massive ROI despite the skyrocketing cost of buying airtime during the NFL’s final game of the season. Prices for a 30-second spot during Super Bowl LVII between Kansas City and Philadelphia were around $6 to $7 million and Fox was able to sell 95% of its available ads by September of last year, according to Front Office Sports.
When all was said and done, Fox took in approximately $600 million in gross advertising revenue for its broadcast of February’s big game, a record for the company. “The money came in late for Super Bowl advertising, so we had some nervous moments,” Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch told investors in March. “But it will be a record Super Bowl for us in terms of total revenue and what we achieved for each spot.”
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This season’s game, Super Bowl LVIII, will air on CBS, and the network has already sold 70% of the event’s ad inventory even though training camps across the NFL haven’t even started yet, per Variety. CBS is currently charging about $6.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime, but that number could get even higher as supply dwindles and demand increases.
Potentially pushing that demand even higher is the reality that there’s no guarantee that scripted TV will be able to attract big audiences moving forward due to the ongoing Hollywood writers strike, which was joined by the Screen Actors Guild last week. Without any assurances that audiences will be watching CBS’ other programming, the network needs to cash in with the Super Bowl. Based on how fast SB LVIII ads are selling, it will.
“Live games continue to fetch the big, simultaneous crowds that advertisers crave,” according to Variety. “Little wonder, then, that sports broadcasts have been among the few types of programming to generate more ad commitments than last year as the networks haggle with Madison Avenue.”
At this rate, it wouldn’t be a surprise if ad space for the final football game of the season is completely sold out before the NFL kicks off on September 7.