It is probably no secret that the Oscar’s hosted by Chris Rock this yr and boycotted by Hollywood’s elite minorities will cost ABC’s advertisers $2 M for ½ min. It is probably no news either that the highest priced 30 sec ad for a regularly scheduled program this past fall was NBC’s Sun Night Ftbll ($603K for 30 sec) with CBS’s Empire being #2 (at $497 K+ for 30 secs of advertising). With those no nonsense data it’s pretty EZ to figure who’s #2 next to Sun’s unbelievable $5 M for 30 secs of SB 50 (CBS) advertising time, right? WRONG, WRONG & WRONG!!! The question needs more detail and the answer needs more serious interpretation. How about if you were to learn that the programming leading to the SB’s “Kick Off” and from the game’s 00:00 time left in the 4th Q were the primary contenders? Surely, there would not be anybody pinning a genius label on us nor anyone vehemently disagreeing with a “oh no that just can’t be.” Rather, we’re sure that there would be quick resignation by most readers to that logical reality. Given SB 50’s expected Nielson audience of 115-120 M, it would NOT be a lightning bolt of info to state that there is an expectation of minimum audience for the “Kickoff Show” of 40 M to 80 M and about the same ± for the post-game show. As for the Oscars, it would do phenomenally well this yr if it was seen by an audience from 40 M to 50 M. And if Sun Night Ftbll avged 22- 23 M that would be very, very good. Beyond those audiences, it is very, very, very unlikely that any other program will touch the audience-o-meter at 20 M. (Just for the record, American Idol’s needle hit 31.1 M during the ‘05-06 season and Friends hit the 52.5 M in ‘03-04. Both were amazing record audiences).

Given Table 1 and all of the above discussion, we went in search of the real and specific answer to our question, “Who’s #2 and what are its #s?”. An Ad Age article from 2012 pretty much nailed it. Pointing to Hyundai it stated that the S Korean automaker was running a 60 sec ad just b-4 kickoff on NBC. The article also noted that while the S Korean darling hadn’t bought any pregame till 2009, it purchased multiple pregame ads in 2010 & 2011 and also in 2012. It purchased “iso- pods” meaning really that it had an ad pod all to itself just b-4 kickoff. “The price for a 30 sec ad berth during the pregame (in 2011) was b/t $100,000 and $2 M. (For those interested, the price of SB 2011’s ads were $2.5 M for 30 sec) The point being that Hyundai (or Pizza Hut or whomever) got a pretty good deal at $2 M given the fact that ALL eyes are glued to the tube just b-4 the kickoff. In essence an isopod kickoff guarantees advertisers a SB sized audience for less than the SB price. NOT A BAD DEAL, NOT A BAD DEAL AT ALL. (If you’re wondering this is also the time for local TV stations airing the SB to sell their premium mdse, the SB. Local affiliates as their parents get the SB once every 3 yrs. If your affiliate is carrying the SB, we promise you don’t have to say it twice. All the sudden advertisers really want the time and are willing to pay for SB proximity. This unusual selling environment is either a “miracle” [Brother Dominic selling Xerox in SB 1979] or the SB.)

Table 1 is a beautiful display of the yr by yr comparison of the ad prices among the highest priced regularly scheduled program each fall from 2003 to 2016 (with fall’s ’16 being estimated), the Oscar show and the Super Bowl. For example the 2016 line reads

  • Given our optimistic increase in Sun Night Ftbll’s ad rates of 9% (over 2015) its 30 sec ad rate will cost $675,000. (Perhaps an increase to $650,000 [+7.8%] over 2015 would’ve been more reasonable, but we didn’t want to stack the deck for the SB %s vs others)


  • The upcoming 2016 Oscars ads are already priced at $2M for 30 sec which is 5% over 2015’s price (of $1.95M)


  • And, SB 50 to be played on 2-7-16 has a $5M price tag on its ads which is 1% more than 2015’s rate of $4.5M.


The reader will note that this table ONLY views ads from 2003-2016 b/c as we travel back in time, the ad rates in 1 or more of our 3 categories becomes less reliable. This means that we must switch sources in our listed categories causing a lack of reliability. So, we chose, therefore, NOT to deviate from our single source per category. The result is that we end our table with 2003. No matter though, b/c it surely becomes obvious from 2003-2016 how the growth of SB advertising far out strips its 2 competitors. Ad rates for the #1 fall program increased by 48.1%; the Oscars’ ad rate increased by 47% while SB ad rates zoomed an incredible 138.1% over the same time, period. SB ad rates whether we want to discuss its awesome heights or its remarkable growth rate over time, is truly in class unto itself. Hail, all hail to the Caesar or ad rates, the Super Bowl!

About bernacmd

For over 24 years, University of Detroit Mercy Marketing Professor Michael Bernacchi, Ph.D., J.D, has produced "uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE", a newsletter discussing current "marketing and advertising¹s bends, trends & ends." A well-know fixture in Detroit and national media, UDM's marketing guru has made several appearances on CNN's "Talk Back Live," the Voice of America worldwide radio network (VOA), ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and on the pages of Sports Illustrated, Time, TV Guide, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, to name a few. At University of Detroit Mercy, he has taught courses in Marketing Management, Consumer Behavior, Marketing Communications, Research and Corporate Social Responsibility and Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Michael Bernacchi can be reached at 313-993-1116 or Please appropriately attribute the following for their work on uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE: Yen Ju Lee Robert Rouse Vidhyasagar Natarajan Eric Baumgardner & Ian Young
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