NBC Sets Record for Super Bowl Ad Rates at $6.5 Million

(Bloomberg) — NBC is selling Super Bowl ads for as much as $6.5 million, a record that shows there’s still advertiser demand for the most-watched sporting event in the U.S. even with audiences shrinking.

The price is a sharp increase from a year ago, when CBS, a unit of ViacomCBS Inc., sold Super Bowl commercials for an average of $5.6 million. That game attracted an audience of 96.4 million TV and digital viewers. While that was still the most-watched event on television, it was the smallest audience for the big game in over a decade.

While NFL viewership declined last year, the audience across most of the TV landscape has fallen even more. Advertisers are still willing to pay for commercials during games because there are few other places to reach such large audiences.

NBC is virtually sold out for the Feb. 13 game and is holding back a few commercial units, Dan Lovinger, executive vice president of advertising sales and sponsorships at NBC Sports Group, told reporters on Wednesday. 

“Sports continues to be more and more important to advertisers,” he said.

NBC, which is owned by Comcast Corp., is seeing some new advertiser categories for this year’s Super Bowl, including “digital wallets and cryptocurrency,” in addition to traditional sponsors like auto and beverage brands, Lovinger said. 

NBC Sports will have an unusually busy February. It will broadcast the Super Bowl in the middle of its broadcast of the Winter Olympics. Despite a decline in viewership for its recent broadcast of the Summer Olympics, NBC is seeing strong interest from advertisers for the Winter games and is “virtually sold out,” Lovinger said.  

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