Selling commercials for the Super Bowl, once one of the least complicated processes in modern media is growing infinitely more complex.
In 2024, Paramount Global will air Super Bowl LVIII on CBS and, in a first, on a separate kids-focused broadcast on Nickelodeon. In doing so, the company has created a few new wrinkles that TV networks in charge of televising the game typically don’t have to face.
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Ads for beer and gambling — two categories that have become staples of sports advertising — would be wholly inappropriate for a young audience. And some advertisers would be wasting some portion of the millions required to air a Super Bowl commercial if they put the same ad on a kids’ network as they did on the general-audience broadcast on CBS.
Some Super Bowl sponsors may opt to “run a different piece of creative if they choose on Nickelodeon,” says John Bogusz, executive vice president of sports sales at CBS, speaking Tuesday during a press event. He also noted the company would have “to deal with a handful of units” tied to alcohol and wagering that probably could not run on Nickelodeon. “We will figure out in time how we’re going to handle those,” he added, noting that Nickelodeon could fill those slots with promos for its own programming or, possibly, “have a few extra units to sell” that might air specifically on the network.
“It’s still a work in progress,” the executive cautioned. CBS had been seeking at $6.5 million to $7 million for a 30-second spot in the 2024 extravaganza, according to media buyers and others familiar with negotiations.
Paramount’s new Super Bowl challenge may be faced by others in the very near future. More TV networks are experimenting with so-called “alterna-casts,” or sports telecasts tailored for audience niches, such as kids, women, or gamblers. Disney’s ESPN continues to try new concepts, including a “Monday Night Football” telecast hosted by the chatty gridiron brothers Eli and Peyton Manning. ESPN executives have suggested strongly that they would like try several alterna-casts when Disney gets the right to broadcast the Big Game in 2027.
The technique aims to bring audiences to an event that might not normally tune in. At the same time, creating bespoke broadcasts creates new challenges, namely the prospect of throwing commercials aimed at broad, general audiences in front of crowds for whom they may not be wholly appropriate or alluring.
Advertisers keep flocking to the gridiron classic. CBS’ Bogusz estimated commercial inventory for Super Bowl LVIII was 90% sold out, with ads in CBS’ overall NFL season about 85% sold. Large brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev intends to be a sponsor of the event, says Bogusz, though other beer marketers are expected to take part as well after the company dropped its exclusivity rights in its last sponsorship pact. CBS has also signed auto advertisers, movie studios and telecom marketers to sponsor the game, and has secured deals with some returning advertisers as well as some completely new to the event, he says,.
Super Bowl LVII, broadcast earlier this year by Fox, was seen by a record crowd of 115.1 million viewers across Fox, Fox Deportes, and various streaming services, and Fox Corp. secured approximately $600 million in advertising revenue. Previous Nickelodeon simulcasts of NFL games carried the same commercials as the telecast on CBS.
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