And a final word from our Super Bowl sponsor

February 4, 2009

Did you feel like all you saw in the first half of the Super Bowl — well, besides Pittsburgh’s James Harrison taking his interception 100 yards to the house — were commercials? Certainly there were a lot of them. In fact, a record amount of commercial time ran over the entire course of this year’s Super Bowl.

According to a just issued report from TNS Media Intellegence, NBC aired 45 minutes, 10 seconds of advertising messages, including paying sponsors, NFL messages and in-house promotions.

Outside of NBC’s promos, four companies accounted for 40 percent of the total paid ad time: PepsiCo, Anheuser-Busch Inbev, Viacom and General Electric, which, of course, is the majority owner of NBC. But TNS warns not to read too much into the big GE ad buy.

The softening ad market for 2009 Super Bowl spots led to speculation that General Electric divisions might be required to step in and buy unsold inventory to help out sister-company NBC. The movie studio and theme park divisions of GE have regularly advertised in previous Super Bowls on other networks, so it’s far-fetched to construe their presence in the 2009 game as the outcome of an inventory fire-sale.

What’s a ‘normal’ level of in-house ad activity for the Super Bowl broadcaster? The past four years have seen four different networks air the game. During this cycle, the advertising presence of the network’s owner has ranged from 30 seconds to 4-1/2 minutes. GE’s 2009 footprint of 2:30 is larger than either News Corp in 2008 or National Amusements in 2007. However, it lags the 4:30 of air time that Disney-owned entities had in the 2006 telecast on ABC.

(Reuters photo of James Harrison)

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