While NBC may be in the two-minute drill to try to find buyers for its last Super Bowl advertising spots, Dick Ebersol is still expecting the biggest of American sporting events to be a big score for the network.
“I think the game will set a record,” for total revenue, Ebersol, the chairman of NBC Sports, said in a conference call Tuesday.
NBC is rushing to fill its final four Super Bowl spots which, Ebersol maintains, “have not crashed in price in any way, shape, or form.” Super Bowl spots were being sold for as much as $3 million for a 30 second commercial, a record-setting figure.
The NBC sales team sold 85% of its Super Bowl advertising before September, when the dire straits of the economic recession became acutely apparent. Ebersol called the record-setting early sales “one incredible lucky break.”
Sales for the pre-game show, which typically are sold later than spots for the game itself, have been slower than anticipated due to the recession, Ebersol said.
Last year’s Super Bowl between New York and New England drew a record 148.3 million people and a 43.2 rating, the highest for a Super Bowl since 2000. Ebersol expects this year’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals to draw “a 40 rating or something above that.”
This year marks the first time NBC has broadcast the Super Bowl in a decade and is the network’s 16th overall. There is added pressure for the Super Bowl to provide big revenue for NBC this year, the network has been consistently in last place among the Big 3 networks in primetime ratings.
Game play-by-play is being handled by Al Michaels and John Madden. Madden will become the first person to have broadcast the game for all four networks.
“John and I are hoping for one thing,” said Michaels. “We’re hoping for double overtime.”