CBS On Unsold Super Bowl Television Ads: "We Planned It"


CBS is optimistic it will sell the remaining six spots slated for Super Bowl Sunday – despite a report that the network is the latest victim of the dot-com shakeout.

The company confirmed yesterday it has yet to sell roughly 10 percent, or about six, of the 30-second spots – more than networks in years past.

But CBS insists it’s all part of the plan to rake in top dollar.

CBS spokesman Gil Schwartz said the network purposely held back about 10 percent of the Super Bowl inventory “as part of its strategy to retain control” when “demand for inventory could increase.”

Schwartz added that CBS has “set the highest target – for unit price and revenue – in Super Bowl history and is on track to meet those targets.”

Various reports have put a price tag of about $2.3 million on each commercial that airs during Super Bowl XXXV. In years past, prices for the spots were between $1.6 million and $1.9 million.

Still, company insiders admit, the CBS ad force was forced to alter its strategy six months ago, once the network realized that last year’s dot-com ad frenzy would not repeat itself.

That came after Mel Karmazin, president of CBS parent Viacom, told media analysts at the Credit Suisses First Boston conference that the “ad business is better today than ever before.”

“I’m absolutely wishing there was a recession, and we could show you how well we operate in a recession,” Karmazin said last month.

He might be right, say industry sources who claim CBS stands to benefit from any configuration of teams headed to the Super Bowl. All four of the play-off teams are in CBS markets, which means big bucks for local CBS affiliates.