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How much do Super Bowl LV commercials cost?

The TV commercials aired during the Super Bowl are one of the event's most hotly-anticipated features - but advertisers have to be prepared to dig deep for the privilege.

TAMPA, FLORIDA - JANUARY 31: An aerial view of Raymond James Stadium ahead of Super Bowl LV on January 31, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.   Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP
Mike EhrmannAFP

The average price of a 30-second television commercial during Sunday’s Super Bowl LV has dropped slightly from 2020, amid reduced demand from major advertisers for air time.

CBS charging average of $5.5m per 30-second Super Bowl advert

CBS, the network broadcasting the showdown between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs, is reported to have sought around $5.5 million per half-minute spot.

This is down from the average price of $5.6 million charged by Fox during 2020’s Super Bowl LIV - the costliest ever for advertisers, who paid $42,500 during Super Bowl I in 1967.

Super Bowl LV news:

TV adverts established as major Super Bowl attraction

Super Bowl commercials have become one of the occasion’s most anticipated and talked-about features. Usually humorous, eye-catching and very big-budget, the ads that have graced America’s TV screens during the NFL showpiece event have included classics such as:

Apple: '1984' (1984)

Volkswagen: 'The Force' (2011)

McDonald’s 'Bird vs Jordan: the Showdown' (1993)

Coke and Pepsi among regulars to give Super Bowl LV a miss

However, several regulars have opted to sit out the Super Bowl this year, as the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic bite into companies’ advertising funds.

For example, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Hyundai are among the biggest names who have all opted against a Super Bowl LV advert. "This difficult choice was made to ensure we are investing in the right resources during these unprecedented times," a Coca-Cola Company spokesperson told MarketWatch.

"$5.5 million Super Bowl unit harder to justify"

Jason Kanefsky, the chief investment officer at advertising agency Havas Media, explained to Bloomberg: "In an environment where businesses are scrutinizing every investment, a $5.5 million Super Bowl unit becomes harder to justify."

Budweiser owners Anheuser-Busch have also decided not to advertise during Sunday’s game, choosing instead to make a donation to efforts to raise awareness over coronavirus vaccination. It’ll be the first time in 37 years that the beer brand hasn’t done a Super Bowl ad.

Difficulty of planning during pandemic also discourages advertisers

The months-long preparations that go into a Super Bowl commercial are another reason why companies have been dissuaded from buying an advertising slot, given the uncertainty over planned sporting events even going ahead amid the pandemic.

"Six months ago we didn’t even know where we’d be with the Super Bowl in February - it was a big thing to bank on," said Hyundai Motor America’s chief marketing officer, Angela Zepeda, said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Dropping Super Bowl audiences may also be factor in lower ad price

As well as the effects of covid-19, another factor that may well have contributed to 2021’s lower advertising price is the fact that companies have been getting fewer eyes on their spots in recent years, amid falling Super Bowl viewing figures.

Having peaked at just over 114 million in 2015, the average TV audience in the US then fell year on year to 98.48m in 2019, according to data compiled by Nielsen Media Research, before rallying slightly to 100.45m in 2020.

And this downward trend was accompanied by a fall in the average price for a 30-second ad in both 2018 and 2019, Nielsen said, with NBC charging $5.23m three years ago and CBS seeking $5.19 12 months later.

Super Bowl LV: live updates

You can follow live build-up to Sunday’s Super Bowl clash between the Buccaneers and the Chiefs with our dedicated rolling blog.


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