It took longer than NBC Sports had hoped, but its ad sales team sold all its ad inventory for Sunday’s Big Game with just 48 hours to go.
“Super Bowl LII is sold out,” said Dan Lovinger, evp of advertising sales, NBC Sports Group, in a statement on Friday night. “We booked record revenue, and advertiser enthusiasm for the game is at an all-time high.”
NBC is the first broadcaster to acknowledge that it sold out its Super Bowl inventory prior to the game since it last broadcast the Big Game three years ago. Neither CBS nor Fox announced a sell-out ahead of their respective Super Bowl telecasts in 2016 and 2017.
Lovinger said last month that NBCUniversal expects to collect “close to $500 million” in Super Bowl-related advertising revenue on Sunday—be a single-day record for a media company. That includes $350 million worth of in-game advertising, with 30-second spots averaging north of $5 million.
Lovinger told Adweek in this week’s issue that NBC Sports was looking to avoid a repeat of last year’s sluggish Super Bowl market, where Fox Sports’ inventory was “fairly wide open with 30 days to go,” he recalled. If NBC Sports had found itself in a similar situation this year, with the Olympics opening just days later, “we weren’t going to be in a good place,” he said. “So we wanted to be more aggressive early with our Super Bowl sales.”
NBC Sports did that with a bold approach resulting in the team selling several Super Bowl LII spots earlier than anticipated. Three weeks ago, Lovinger said that NBC had “less than 10” slots available for the game.
But those final spots proved harder to sell than expected. One was snapped up at the last minute by Wix, which had previously said it wouldn’t be part of this year’s game.
This scramble to unload inventory in the final days before the game was exactly the scenario Lovinger had hoped to avoid. “I don’t intend to have any inventory at the last minute,” he told Adweek last month. “The intent is not to go in and with a week out say, ‘Make me the best offer on the final spot.'”
While there are no more eleventh-hour Super Bowl spots to be had, Lovinger does have a solution for marketers looking to get their message out to a big sports audience this month: “If an advertiser has this last-minute hankering to be part of a big event, and the Super Bowl is sold out,” said Lovinger, “we do have the Olympics,” which start just four days later.