$2.4M: That IS Super

That's what CBS wants for 30-second spots in this season's Super Bowl

CBS wants $2.4 million per 30-second ad spot for the 2001 Super Bowl, airing next January. Whether it gets that price remains to be seen.

Agency and network sources say that's the number CBS is throwing out. By comparison, agency executives say, ABC averaged Super Bowl prices of between $1.8 million and $1.9 million per-30, despite an 11th-hour flurry of spots that went to dotcom companies for upwards of $3 million.

But sources at both CBS and ad agencies say the network is not planning on the huge dotcom bonanza next year that ABC reaped this year.

Agency executives also say CBS is packaging the Super Bowl with other sports inventory, including the six-hour Super Bowl pre-game, regular season NFL and even other franchises such as NCAA college basketball, which the network has tied up for another dozen years or so. But a network source stressed that, in most cases, the packages contain football product only.

Agency executives say CBS is aggressively packaging the Super Bowl with other product because the Olympics on NBC is a two-fold challenge: It has created a glut of sports inventory that some advertisers don't like to advertise against it.

"There's not dramatic softness, but there is a need to move some regular season NFL on behalf of FOX and CBS," said one high-ranking agency executive. Depending on how much regular-season NFL an advertiser is willing to buy, "if they're also interested in buying the Super Bowl, at this point, they'll do far better than $2.4 million."

Another ad executive said CBS recognizes that there was a "real blip in terms of that last-minute dotcom spending last year." That's not likely to happen again, given the shakeout of dotcoms over the past two months.

The network is still early in the process of selling the game-so early, in fact, that CBS sales executives declined to comment for this story.

But the biggest deal to date is believed to be Budweiser, which tends to pay a premium for a slew of spots it wants, where it wants them. Sources say Bud was the only traditional football advertiser to pay $2 million a spot in last year's game to get premium positioning.

The NFL ad-sales market is expected to shift into full gear in the next week or so and be completed within the next month.