Super Bowl may be boon for weary TV advertisers

Fri Jan 11, 2008 5:35pm EST
 
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By Paul Thomasch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Hollywood writers strike, declining television ratings and the budgetary pressures that accompany an economic slowdown have conspired to make it a tough stretch for U.S. advertisers this year -- so the Super Bowl couldn't come at a better time.

Always the biggest TV event of the year, Super Bowl XLII has taken on added significance as advertisers look for "event programming," or shows audiences watch live instead of recording to watch later, often skipping commercials.

"As ratings continue to erode, the Super Bowl and any of the other big events look even more glorious than they did before," said Steve Farella, chief executive of TargetCast, an independent media buying agency.

That is particularly true this year, media experts said, as U.S. audiences have been left without some of the most popular prime-time TV shows because of a 10-week-old strike by Hollywood screenwriters. Prime-time network ratings were down an estimated 10 percent for the fall season.

"It could be the highest-rated Super Bowl in history," said Brad Adgate, director of research at Horizon Media. "The competing networks usually back down anyway. But with an audience starved for TV entertainment, it could be huge."

Even before the strike, News Corp's Fox Broadcasting had sold more than 90 percent of the commercial time for the February 3 championship football game, with a source familiar with the deals saying prices climbed as high as $3 million for a 30-second spot.

Average prices this year have run around $2.7 million, the source said, up from $2.6 million last year when CBS broadcast the game.

Among the advertisers who bought commercial time this year are Anheuser-Busch, General Motors, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Only one 30-second spot remains for the broadcast, the source said.   Continued...

 
<p>Members of the Indianapolis Colts touch the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Chicago Bears to win the NFL's Super Bowl XLI football game in Miami, Florida, February 4, 2007. The Hollywood writers strike, declining television ratings and the budgetary pressures that accompany an economic slowdown have conspired to make it a tough stretch for U.S. advertisers this year -- so the Super Bowl couldn't come at a better time. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>