Nearly two months after selling out its Super Bowl inventory—the fastest that’s happened in nine years—Fox found a way to cash in on the massive advertiser demand this year.
Fox Sports and the NFL have added an additional “floater” ad pod to the game, which will last two minutes and 30 seconds, according to Seth Winter, evp of sports sales for Fox Sports. That means Fox was able to add more than $25 million to its in-game Super Bowl ad revenue.
“Floater” pods are used in the case of injuries or other unexpected breaks in the action.
Fox Sports sold out its Super Bowl LIV ad inventory on Nov. 22. It was the earliest a Super Bowl had been sold out since 2011’s Super Bowl XLV, which also aired on Fox and ran out of inventory in late October 2010.
Fox is receiving as much as $5.6 million per 30-second spot, which is a new Super Bowl record. Other than one long-term deal that was struck “years ago” for below $5 million, “everything we’ve done this year has been north of $5.2 million,” Winter said in November. He told Adweek the average price for a 30-second spot is in the low-to-mid $5 million range.
(Typically, advertisers who only buy a single Super Bowl spot would be charged that higher rate; those who purchase multiple spots in the game or a larger Fox Sports media buy would receive a discounted rate.)
In recent years, networks haven’t sold out their Super Bowl spots until days or even hours before the game. That changed when Winter joined Fox last January.
He sped up the process, first by working with the NFL to reduce the number of ad breaks in each quarter from five to four. The move consolidated inventory into fewer pods, which created fewer A and Z positions (the first and last of each pod), leading to a contraction of premium inventory. As a result, Fox sold out of all its Super Bowl A positions by early fall.
The contraction of premium inventory and consistent pricing—along with dwindling linear ratings in just about every other category except for live sports—helped create “urgency” in the market to buy earlier, Winter said.
After Winter announced in mid-November that the game was already 78% sold out, with only 17 of Fox’s 77 in-game spots still up for grabs at the time, the market picked up “incredibly” due to “the very real possibility that brands would be shut out if they didn’t move quickly,” he said.
Even after the Super Bowl sold out, brands were still hoping to find a way in, which led Winter to create the additional pod. He said Fox Sports has been working with the NFL for weeks to figure out the optimal format for adding more inventory.
Winter told Adweek last month that he had a waiting list of brands eager to either get into the game or expand the length of the spots they had already purchased. “We could sell another half or more of a quarter, just based on a queue of people who’d like to participate this year,” he said.
For all the latest Super Bowl advertising news—who’s in, who’s out, teasers, full ads and more—check out Adweek’s Super Bowl 54 Ad Tracker. And join us on the evening of Feb. 2 for the best in-game coverage of the Super Bowl commercials anywhere.