- Fox added more commercial time to its Super Bowl LIV broadcast amid heavy demand from advertisers, Ad Age reported. The broadcaster, which in November said it had sold out its ad inventory, will put in two 60-second commercial break for marketers that are significant sponsors of the National Football League and Fox Sports.
- The additional slots will be flexible "floaters" that appear during an unplanned break in gameplay. The goal is to provide an "organic interruption" during pauses in the action on the field, Fox Sports' EVP of sales Seth Winter told Ad Age.
- Fox says it will have fewer commercial breaks than it did in past years to cut down on clutter, even with the addition of the extra ad inserts. The network didn't disclose which advertisers will be added in the two floater slots, although unnamed sources told Ad Age that one of them is Microsoft. Fox's Super Bowl coverage will start at 2 p.m. Eastern on Feb. 2, while kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Fox's addition of two extra commercial breaks highlights the desire among the network, the NFL and advertisers to optimize the mix of gameplay and sponsored messages in the biggest live event of the year. Fox and the NFL had planned to cut one ad slot from each quarter of this year's game, in line with the league's demands to reduce the number of interruptions of gameplay. The NFL aims to appeal to younger viewers who tend to be more averse to commercial interruptions, Variety reported.
Broadcasters have responded to these consumer demands by creating on-screen "double boxes" that show games alongside ads, longer commercial pods but fewer breaks, and shorter ads during routine stoppages in game play, per Variety. The league's demand for fewer commercial breaks is a sign of how much cord-cutting and the popularity of ad-free streaming services like Netflix have changed consumers' viewing habits.
Advertiser interest in this year's Super Bowl was so strong that Fox in November reported it had sold out its big game inventory for as much as $5.6 million for a 30-second spot. Fox also saw elevated demand from advertisers that wanted to run longer spots, such as 60 seconds or more. This year's broadcast will have the equivalent of 80 30-second ads, per Variety. CBS' broadcast of Super Bowl 2019 had 91 in-game ads, including network promos, while NBC's 2018 broadcast showed 86 commercials and promos, per Kantar data.
While the Super Bowl's viewership has declined in the past decade and the average age of the NFL's audience has increased, live sporting events are still regarded as key to reaching mass audiences on linear TV. The Super Bowl serves as a launchpad for many national campaigns, helping to set the tone for the rest of the year. Anheuser-Busch InBev, Audi, Kellogg's, PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble are among the advertisers that plan to run ads during this year's game.