CBS profits - Super Bowl Network signs sponsors

CBS profits from Super Bowl hype Network signs sponsors for pregame, postgame shows

By Michael McCarthy and Theresa Howard USA TODAY

CBS, the network for Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28, is looking to make a bigger marketing bonanza out of its coverage outside the game.

The network will start pregame programs at noon ET — 2 hours earlier than ABC’s 2 p.m. start last January. And it already has sold eight of nine title sponsorships for pregame, halftime and postgame shows, mostly to traditional marketers such as Frito-Lay and Subway.

“You can’t get more traditional on a Super Bowl than sandwiches and chips,” says Joe Abruzzese, head of ad sales.

Pregame coverage continues up to the 6:30 p.m. ET kickoff and wraps up with a half-hour postgame show. Fox kicked off the longest pregame ever at 11 a.m. ET two years ago, a far cry from the half-hour Super Bowl pregame in the 1970s.

Less is more when it comes to hours of diagrams by ex-coaches and cheesy player profiles, says marketing consultant Laura Ries. “I can’t imagine people parking themselves in front of the TV and watching 6 hours of hype.”

But former CBS Sports chief Neal Pilson says the numbers favor more hours: “The networks get a rating; not a huge rating. The programming is inexpensive to produce. I can tell you it’s highly profitable for a network, that’s why they do it.”

And advertisers see pregame ads as a way to get Super Bowl “rub-off” without coughing up big bucks, Pilson notes.

Sponsors of pregame shows buy packages with on-screen visibility and up to eight 30-second ad slots.

CBS won’t talk rates, but Pilson says packages start in six figures early and rise to more than $1 million near kickoff. That’s still less than the $2.2 million to $2.4 million CBS is averaging for 30 seconds in the game.

The lineup (all times ET):

* 12-1 p.m./open: Still for sale.

* 1-2/open: Hour being sold to multiple advertisers.

* 2-3/PlayStation 2: Sony has eight slots, spokeswoman Molly Smith says.

* 3-4/RadioShack: The banter continues in new spots with ex-NFL star Howie Long and Teri Hatcher, says Jim McDonald, chief marketing officer.

* 4-5/Zales: The jeweler would give no details.

* 5-5:30/Subway: The sandwich chain has six spots, including five testimonials from consumers inspired by Jared Fogle losing 245 pounds on a Subway diet. Subway gets “prominent position without the in-game pricing,” says Chris Carroll, marketing director.

* 5:30-6/Frito-Lay: Frito-Lay airs three 30-second spots. “People don’t say pass the tofu when they’re watching the Super Bowl,” spokeswoman Lynn Markley says.

* 6-kickoff/Charles Schwab: The discount brokerage is expected to use three spots to launch a brand campaign. “It’s one of the ideal times that viewers are watching,” says Jack Calhoun, senior vice president.

* Halftime/E-Trade: The online brokerage teams with MTV for the show. E-Trade also has five pregame spots. Still, sponsors “can’t get the prestige, reach and leadership image that you get in the actual game,” notes E-Trade President Jerry Gramaglia. So E-Trade has two in-game spots, too.

* Postgame/General Motors: Pontiac airs three spots in its postgame show, spokeswoman Peg Holmes says.