The Cost of Super Bowl Commercials Over the Years

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Somewhere in the vicinity of 100 million viewers will tune in on Feb. 12 to watch Super Bowl LVII, when Patrick Mahomes will lead his Kansas City Chiefs against Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles. Everything about this matchup is big — big stakes, big hype, big betting and big ratings. And don’t forget the big money companies will pay for commercial spots when the game airs on Fox — a record amount for a 30-second spot.

In fact, many of the 30-second commercial spots in Super Bowl LVII cost $7 million, Front Office Sports reported. And despite the steep price, Fox sold every spot, per the report. Remarkably, 95% of the ad slots had been gobbled up by September, per Adweek.

Here’s a breakdown of commercial costs through the years.

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Cost of a Super Bowl Commercial Over the Years

When the game made its debut in 1967, a Super Bowl ad could be had for what now seems like the modest price of $42,500. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $383,400 worth of buying power in today’s market, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ CPI inflation calculator. But the big game isn’t content to keep pace with inflation — far from it, in fact. With some commercials costing $7 million for 30 seconds, that breaks down to $233,000 per second of airtime. You read that right — the cost of an ad in the first Super Bowl couldn’t even buy you one second of airtime at Super Bowl LVII.

With a few exceptions, each year has shown a rise in the cost of a Super Bowl commercial, which broke the $1 million mark in 1995. Here’s an abbreviated look at the cost of ads for the big game through the past 55 years.

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Year Cost of a 30-Second Ad
1967 $42,500
1970 $78,200
1975 $107,000
1980 $222,000
1985 $525,000
1990 $700,400
1995 $1.15 million
2000 $2.1 million
2005 $2.4 million
2010 $2.95 million
2015 $4.25 million
2016 $4.8 million
2017 $5.4 million
2018 $5.24 million
2019 $5.2 million
2020 $5.6 million
2021 $5.5 million
2022 $6.5 million
2023 $7 million

How Brands Benefit From Super Bowl Commercials

The cost of a Super Bowl commercial is staggering, but there’s no bigger audience an advertiser can reach. Nine of the top 10 television history in the United States were Super Bowls, with only the series finale of M*A*S*H in 1983 breaking into the Super Bowl stratosphere in terms of viewership.

More than 112 million people watched last year’s Super Bowl, won by the Los Angeles Rams, on TV and via streaming services, CNBC reported.

Those numbers guarantee that a brand gets seen by millions of people watching the Super Bowl. And that can provide a marketing boost that lingers well past Super Bowl Sunday, according to a 2018 study.

The study “Super Bowl Ads,” co-authored by Wesley Hartmann of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Daniel Klapper, dean of the School of Business and Economics at Humboldt University Berlin, found that the companies that advertising during the Super Bowl will recognize increased sales during other sporting events, such as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the NBA playoffs and major-league baseball games.

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Their research also showed that when a company is the only advertiser in its category during the Super Bowls, its sales are even higher.

The Advertisers

So, which advertisers have ponied up the big money for the big game? Anheuser-Busch bought three minutes of airtime, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. In years past, it was the only alcohol advertiser, by agreement, but that isn’t the case this year, with beer brands Heineken and Molson Coors, as well as brands Diageo and Remy Martin joining in.

Other advertisers, according to the report, include Doritos, M&Ms, tech companies, automakers, movie studios and streaming services. What viewers won’t see are ads from cryptocurrency companies, which went big last year, but are sidelined following the fallout of the FTX scandal.

Some of the ads already have leaked, but there undoubtedly will be some surprises on Super Bowl Sunday. And there’s the hope that the commercial spots will touch our emotions and leave us enlightened and also entertained.

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