Got $4.5 Million To Spare? Nbc Still Has Unsold Super Bowl Ad Time


Two months ago, NBC Sports sales evpĀ  Seth Winter was telling the New York Times how satisfied he was with the pace of 2015 Super Bowl ad sales. “We could very well be sold out by the end of December,” he told them. Well, the end of December has come and gone, and guess what? According to a January 7 Advertising Age report, NBC still has unsold Super Bowl ad time on its hands.

Maybe Winter was thinking of last year’s Super Bowl, when Fox, which was airing it, sold out all its ad time the preceding December.

Undaunted, he told Ad Age that “We fully expect to meet or exceed our sales goals,” claiming that his network was pacing ahead of 2012, the last time they carried the game. But they’re not. That year, NBC had sold its last available spot by January 3. This year, as of January 7, they haven’t.

In addition to a supply of unsold commercial time, Winter has a good supply of excuses.

One is that NBC has more inventory this time around, having somehow carved out more commercial breaks from the action.

Another is that it’s been a tough year economically (as if 2013, 2012 and 2011 weren’t), particularly for the television industry.

Still another is that automobile brands have stopped advertising. Honda, Acura, Jaguar (whose first and last Super Bowl appearance to date was last year) , Lincoln and Volkswagen are sitting out Super Bowl XLIX, and Audi, Hyundai and GM still haven’t committed. But that’s normal fluctuation; according to Kantar media figures, 11 car brands aired Super Bowl commercials last year, nine in 2013, 12 in 2012, and 9 in 2011.

There are also dropouts from the technology and wireless categories.

Drinks and munchies (Coke, Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Doritos) will be back, and so will GoDaddy. So will fast food and insurance. And there’ll be the usual group of rookies, betting the farm on one multimillion-dollar roll of the dice: Avocados from Mexico, Mophie smartphone accessories and Carnival cruises.

The Law of Supply and Demand says that when prices go up, demand goes down (and unsold supply goes up). NBC pricing, at $4.5 million for one 30-second spot, is an all-time record high. What a shame that, for all his bravado and all his excuses, Winter somehow managed to ignore that.

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