Nearly two months after selling out its Super Bowl inventory—capping the fastest market in nine years—Fox has found a way to capitalize on the massive advertiser demand this year.
The company has added an additional “floater” ad pod to the game. “Floater” pods are used in the case of injuries or other unexpected breaks in the action.
Fox Sports had sold out of its Super Bowl LIV ad inventory on Nov. 22. It was the earliest a Super Bowl had been sold out in nine years, since 2011’s Super Bowl XLV, which also aired on Fox, wrapped its in-game sales in late October 2010.
Fox is receiving as much as $5.6 million per 30-second spot, which is a new Super Bowl record. Other than one long-term deal that was transacted “years ago” for below $5 million, “everything we’ve done this year has been north of $5.2 million,” Seth Winter, evp of sports sales for Fox Sports, said in November. He told Adweek the average price for a 30-second spot is in the low-to-mid $5 million range.
(Typically, advertisers who only buy a single Super Bowl spot would be charged that higher rate; those who purchase multiple spots in the game or as part of a larger Fox Sports media buy would receive a discounted rate.)
In recent years, networks hadn’t sold out of their Super Bowl spots until days or even hours before the game. That changed when Winter joined Fox last January.
He sped up the process, first by working with the NFL to reduce the number of ad breaks in each quarter, from five to four. The move consolidated inventory into fewer pods, which created fewer A and Z positions (the first and last of each pod), leading to a contraction of premium inventory. As a result, Fox sold out of all its Super Bowl A positions by early fall.
The contraction of premium inventory and consistent pricing—along with dwindling linear ratings in just about every other category except for live sports—helped create “urgency” in the market to transact earlier, Winter said.
After Winter announced in mid-November that the game was already 78% sold out, with only 17 of Fox’s 77 in-game spots still up for grabs at the time, the market picked up “incredibly” due to “the very real possibility that brands would be shut out if they didn’t move quickly,” he said in November.
Even after the Super Bowl sold out, brands were still hoping to find a way in, which led Winter to create the additional pod.
Winter told Adweek last month that he had a “waiting list” of brands eager to either get into the game or expand the length of the spots they had already purchased. “We could sell another half or more of a quarter, just based on a queue of people who’d like to participate this year,” he said.