The annual 52nd Super Bowl which featured the New England Patriots facing off against the Philadelphia Eagles that aired this past Sunday, February 4, provided an entertaining sports competition, along with many comedic, heartwarming and intense advertisements.

For some the motivation to tune into the big game in the first place is less so for the football, and more for anticipation of some seriously good advertisements. For example, Budweiser has earned a popular reputation for its Super Bowl commercials.

However, because so many people are watching the game, the cost of air time for these commercials is significantly more expensive than usual. In a report by Sports Illustrated, it said that NBC will charge a company over $5 million to stream a 30 second commercial to a viewing audience predicted to exceed 100 million. Last year, for the 51st Super Bowl companies spent an average of $5.5 million per 30 second time slot.   

Jack Lauer ‘21, an economics major from Chicago, believes it is practical that NBC charges these high amounts for commercials to be shown during the big game.

“The reason it costs so much to advertise is because you are guaranteed that about 100 million people will see the ad, therefore, the Super Bowl itself can profit from those companies contributing so much. Companies compete every year to get their ad on the big screen, which means there must be some benefit. The cost would change drastically if the audience size were to also undergo a significant change,” Lauer said.     

Because they are spending such a significant amount on a single advertisement, it is important that companies take into account what kind of audience they’re communicating their product too, and how exactly they want to do it.

Lauer said there can also be a struggle of running an advertisement during the big game.

“With a drastically diverse group of people viewing the Super Bowl, I think it would be hard to figure out what particular ad the audience wants to see. However, we know that the best ones are ultimately rated on how funny and or memorable they were. Comedy has always been something that brings people together, however, in this current social climate companies will air on the side of caution in hopes they don’t offend anyone watching,” said Lauer.   

In comparison to other big sporting events that receive lots of attention from viewers, the price to run a commercial do not come anywhere near close to those of the Super Bowl. Sports Illustrated reported that for a 30 second advertisement to play during Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, it would cost the company a mere $500,000. By comparing that price to the $5 million spent on Super Bowl Sunday, the popularity difference of the events is striking.

  Max Lahn ‘21, an economics major with a communications minor agrees that the high price for advertising time slots during the showing of the Super Bowl are rational. “Because so many people watch the Super Bowl, if they have a good commercial their product will grow much more. It allows for so many more people to view their pitch in a short 30 seconds and helps their company grow,” he said.  

The steep prices set on commercial time slots during the Super Bowl are rational due to the drastically large size of the viewing audience. However it is still interesting to observe how significant of an investment those short seconds are for each company that chooses to run their campaign during the game.