CBS Says Super Bowl Ad Sales Run Ahead of 2007’s Championship

By Andy Fixmer
Bloomberg — CBS Corp., owner of the most-watched U.S. television network, said sales of Super Bowl commercials are running ahead of 2007, the last time the company aired the National Football League championship.

CBS has spots available throughout the game, the most- watched TV event each year, with most of the remaining time in the final quarter, according to John Bogusz, who oversees sports and news at the New York-based network.

“We’re pleasantly surprised with where we are,” Bogusz said today in an interview. “The last four months have been very active, both for college football, the NFL and the Super Bowl.

”The recovering U.S. ad market is helping CBS sell Super Bowl commercials, some of the most expensive on TV. The network has already sold about 90 percent of the air time, sooner than NBC did a year ago, Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said yesterday at an investor conference. Companies are spending “close to $3 million” for a 30-second advertisement, he said. That matches prices NBC reported for the 2009 game.

U.S. automakers haven’t purchased commercial time during the Super Bowl, Bogusz said. They may yet buy spots closer to the game after skipping last year’s match, he said. Foreign carmakers have purchased commercials, along with U.S. retailers, pharmaceutical companies and Web site operators, he said.

“We are in conversations as we speak for the other units,” Bogusz said of remaining Super Bowl spots. “We still have inventory, but there’s two months to go. Add in some guys who historically are there and a few new guys and you get to a sell out pretty quickly. So we’re feeling fairly confident.”

Higher Prices
CBS ad prices are running 25 percent above rates negotiated in May for the current TV season, Moonves said. Robert Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Co., said today at a UBS AG investor conference that the company’s ABC network also sold ads for more than 25 percent above those advance rates.

The Winter Olympics in Vancouver and elections in November will contribute to a 4.2 percent increase in U.S. advertising sales next year, Standard & Poor’s said today.

CBS, controlled by Chairman Sumner Redstone, fell 37 cents to $13.55 today in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have gained 65 percent this year.To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at