Wednesday December 6, 2023

The Rise in the Cost of a Super Bowl Commercial

  • Since first Super Bowl, ad prices have increased 16,371% percent.
  • NBC generated $578 million in-game revenue in 2022.
Super Bowl branding is everywhere in Phoenix.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Super Bowl Sunday has become an unofficial national holiday in the United States. Football fans — casual or die-hard gather around the television with their favorite foods and snacks – and check out the commercials.

Since the first Super Bowl in 1967, the game has grown exponentially and become a gold mine for potential advertisers. 

Besides the game’s enormous reach, it’s the one day of the year when advertisers are guaranteed consumers will watch their commercials. Many casual fans watch more for the funny, celebrity-filled spots than the football. 

Over the years, Super Bowl commercials have become one of the most highly anticipated parts of a Super Bowl broadcast. In today’s fragmented media environment, advertisers take advantage of having the exclusive attention of potentially over 100 million viewers. Companies try their best to be one of the most remembered, but some companies flop in their effort to reach consumers.

The first 30-second ad for Super Bowl I between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs cost $42,500. With inflation adjustments, it would have cost $372,390.34.

Rising Costs

Super Bowl in-game ad spots first cracked the $1 million mark in 1995. This year, brand marketers will pay a record $7 million ($233,333 per second) for in-game spots during Fox Sports’ telecast of Super Bowl 57 on Feb. 12.

That’s just for airtime. It doesn’t count the millions in production costs or the big-money fees paid to top directors.

The broadcast networks are smiling at the bank. Last year’s Super Bowl between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams (98.18 million viewers) generated over $578 million in in-game commercial revenue for NBC, according to research firm Kantar  — an excellent return on investment for the networks and their combined 11-year, $110 billion media rights deal, completed in 2021.

Commercial Cost Over Years

YearCostToday’s Cost*
1985$525,000$1,427,917.05 million
1990$700,000$1,567,394.80 million
1995$1.2 million$2,304,370.08 million
2000$2 million$3,399,012.78 million
2005$2.4 million$3,718,221.28 million
2010$3 million$4,026,328.10 million
2015$4.25 million$5,247,656.29 million
2021$5.5 million$5,940,150.20 million
2022$6.5 million
2023$7 million
*Inflation adjustment based on December 2022
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