CBS sells out Super Bowl advertising spots

Mon Feb 1, 2010 3:13pm EST
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Ben Klayman

CHICAGO (Reuters) - CBS has sold all the advertising spots for the television broadcast of the National Football League's Super Bowl championship game this coming Sunday, the television network said on Monday.

CBS has come under fire in recent weeks from various groups for allowing a conservative Christian group to air an anti-abortion ad, and for barring a commercial from a dating site for gay men as inappropriate for prime time.

In early December, CBS had sold about 90 percent of the available commercial time for the Super Bowl, with prices for a 30-second spot running close to $3 million. The game typically includes 50 to 60 spots.

"Obviously, we went through a tough upfront this year," Jo Ann Ross, president of sales for CBS, told Reuters. "You always go into a market place when you have high-ticket items like the Grammys and the Super Bowl and an Olympic year a little bit with a pit in your stomach, but that pit is no longer in my stomach.

"There's still a lot to be said for live events that garner general interest," she added in a telephone interview.

CBS had a great year selling ads for the NFL season and is running ahead of last year's pace on golf and the NCAA college basketball tournament in March -- even closing a deal on Monday morning with an unidentified company for both sports worth more than $10 million, Ross said.

The Super Bowl is the biggest advertising event of the year. Commercial rates run far above what other TV events command, partly because the game draws around 95 million U.S. viewers.

More Americans enjoy the ads than the action on the field, a recent Nielsen study found. A study by ad agency Venables Bell & Partners showed that 66 percent of viewers remember their favorite advertiser from the 2009 Super Bowl, compared with 39 percent recall of which team won.   Continued...