CBS' Super Bowl at Fourth and Goal

By John Consoli

The Super Bowl has become a super pain for the broadcast networks to sell. While the premier U.S. televised sports event is a huge annual revenue producer for the network that airs it, commercial spots in the game are increasingly hard to sell.

Case in point: CBS this year. With just three weeks to go until kickoff, the network has sold just north of 70 percent of the in-game units. And with a total of 58 spots, the network still has about 16 left to sell.

It’s become a not-so-well-kept secret among network sales executives that as much revenue and prestige that a Super Bowl yields—CBS could take in anywhere from $120 million-$140 million on the three-hour game alone, in addition to millions from the six hours of pregame programming—the three weeks prior to kickoff is a time of severe angst for sales teams facing fourth and goal.

One media agency executive described this current Super Bowl selling season: “CBS is definitely in hustle mode, trying to come up with any innovative way possible to move those in-game units.”

“Based on its history, Super Bowl sales just seem to always be liquid right up until a day or two before the game,” Taranto said. “That’s just the way it is.”