Superbowl Commercial

What Do You Get for a $4 Million Super Bowl Commercial?

By Staff Writer
In January 30, 2014

Surely everyone has heard that the average single :30 Super Bowl commercial sold for $4,000,000 this year. Game time is 6:30 p.m. on Fox this Sunday. The #1 offense (Broncos) meets the #1 defense (Seahawks), and American soprano Renée Fleming becomes the first opera star to sing the national anthem. Pepsi’s halftime show will feature Bruno Mars with special guests The Red Hot Chili Peppers. So the question becomes: What do you get for that price tag and how does it compare to other highly-rated programming?

First of all, the big game is the most-watched TV program in the United States. Last year, it had a 46.4 household rating, which was equivalent to almost 53 million households (52,998,000, according to Nielsen). And 108.7 million people watched the game, which was not even its largest-ever viewership. That honor goes to the 2012 Super Bowl, which averaged a 47.1 household rating with 54 million homes and a phenomenal 111,346,000 viewers. This year, ratings could set a new record, as it will be only the third time in the last 20 years that the Super Bowl contenders are the top two seeds.

So let’s put that viewership into perspective by looking at some other key TV programs:

  • 2013 Oscars – 40.3 million viewers
  • 2014 Grammys – 28.5 million
  • The Big Bang Theory (Broadcast TV’s #1 comedy) – 20 million
  • N.C.I.S. (#1 drama) – 19.7 million
  • American Idol (January’s #1 reality show) – 13.2 million
  • The Blacklist (#1 new show) – 9.4 million
  • The Golden Globes – 4.6 million
  • Sherlock (PBS) – 4 million
  • Vampire Diaries (CW) – 2.5 million

The average cost for a :30 spot in the Academy Awards — the “Super Bowl for Women” — was $1.65 million in 2012. So, on a cost efficiency basis, the Super Bowl makes more financial sense among the high-profile, big broadcast events. As for spending $4 million on a single ad, the value depends on a combination of factors: The relevance of the advertiser/product, overall marketing goals and budget, creative execution and PR generation.

And the Super Bowl has incredible upside with social media. Last year, there were more than 26.1 million tweets about the Super Bowl sent out during the course of the game itself.

Kantar Media reported that last year’s Super Bowl earned a 101.6 commercial tuning index. In simpler terms, it means the audience watching the Super Bowl commercials was actually 1.6% larger than those watching the game. The commercials are as popular — often even more so — than the Super Bowl itself. In fact, only .07% of viewers tuned out for the average commercial in the game. The average for other prime programs is 3-4%.

But for many, $4 million is still prohibitively steep. But so is anything to do with the big game. According to International Business Times, Super Bowls are the most expensive sports ticket in America. The face value on a 2014 ticket runs the gamut from a premiere seat at $2,600 to the lowest at a mere $500. StubHub’s cheapest ticket was $2,548.90 with TiqIQ’s at $3,447. Due to concerns about the weather, one suite at MetLife Stadium for this year’s Super Bowl sold for $899,270.

Super Bowl XLVIII will be on most Americans’ television sets this Sunday. One key exception, according to, is Tom Brady, who claims he won’t be watching this year’s game. Will you be watching?

Staff Writer

So who is this mysterious staff writer? Could be anyone really, as long as they meet our very strict criteria. 1) Worked with us in one capacity or another. 2) Have something pretty interesting to say. 3) Want to use our blog to say it. See? Told ya they were strict!