Sports can prduce some of the most important and memorable events in peoples' lives. For this reason, fans all around the world watch sporting events from a variety of places. People watch games from home and on the go, at restaurants and meeting venues, and even (in the past couple years) on mobile devices live as they happen. The world of sports changes every day and it's important for many fans to stay informed and up to date.
In fact, historically speaking, sporting events have been some of the highest-rated television programs of all time. For instance, in 2012, 166.8 million Americans watched the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. This is nearly twice the 84.4 million people who watched the series finale of Cheers in 1993 and at least 110 million more than the 50 million who saw Johnny Carson's final Tonight Show in 1992. And that was when people still watched TV!
As a result, companies are willing to pay the big money to get their products out on television during important games. Some of these companies will have to pay thousands if not millions of dollars to get their items exposed to the general public, even if it's just for a few seconds. Advertising has become increasingly important in sports because there are so few other programs that people consider to be "appointment viewing" these days. After all, whereas you can always DVR and watch the Walking Dead five days after it airs, you can't just do the same for a sporting event. It just doesn't have the same effect.
This listing of the most expensive sporting events to advertise during is based on the total amount of money you'd have to spend in order to get a single 30-second advertisement on the broadcast. This is regardless of during what portion of the broadcast the ad is going to appear. Many companies try to aim for as early in the program as possible, but that's a totally different story to begin with. Here are the top 10 most expensive sporting events for advertisers.
10 Masters - CBS - $400,000/30 Seconds
Whereas CBS can get $105,000 for a 30-second spot to a typical PGA Tour event, it can quadruple that amount for a single spot during the Masters. This is thanks not only to the prestigious nature of the event, but also because the Augusta National Golf Club has some extreme limits on advertising. It only allows CBS to air four minutes of commercials in an hour instead of the usual twelve.
9 World Series - Fox - $450,000/ 30 Seconds
In 2002, a 30-second ad during the World Series cost $280,000. This went up to $400,000 in 2006 and has remained near the same level since then. The $450,000 value for advertising during the 2013 World Series has not been without its problems. Fox has found it more difficult to get sponsors as the World Series keeps on being scheduled all the way into November. Sometimes Fox can add spots as cheap as $20,000 during Games 6 and 7.
8 NBA Finals - ABC - $500,000/30 Seconds
The NBA Finals have been airing on ABC every year for close to a decade. The Finals have received some very high ratings in recent years thanks to the Miami Heat's dominance and popularity of stars like LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. As a result, it can cost $500,000 to get an advertisement to promote during one of these games. In a recent example, ad time was purchased for Jay-Z to promote his new album and his association with Samsung mobile devices.
7 MLB All-Star Game - Fox - $550,000/30 Seconds
Fox has done well with the MLB All-Star game recently, being able to sell out all of its television advertising slots for the past few years, even at the cost of $550,000 for a standard commercial message during the game. Still, ratings are around 5 million less than they were a decade ago on average. This in spite of MLB's "this time it counts" approach to the All-Star Game where the winner gets home field advantage in the World Series.
6 Daytona 500 - Fox - $550,000/30 Seconds
The Daytona 500, the first race of the NASCAR season, has become a prized possession among Fox's sports programs. Fox can charge $550,000 for 30 seconds of ad time during the race. This could increase in 2014 as the 2013 edition of the race had a 30% increase in its viewership. Much of the reason for this increase came from Danica Patrick's qualifying performance, allowing her to start from the pole position.
5 Sunday Night Football - NBC - $590,000/30 Seconds
NBC's broadcasts of Sunday night NFL games in primetime net around $590,000 for every 30-second commercial spot, an increase over the $540,000 from 2012. For comparison's sake, it would cost $350,000 for the same spot on American Idol or $280,000 during Modern Family. In other words, the rights for NFL games in real time are clearly higher than what it costs when sponsoring even a live reality television event or a high-rated scripted TV show. As opposed to events like the MLB World Series and All-Star game which only happen once a year, NBC generates this kind of profit for the entire 16-week NFL season.
4 NCAA Final Four - CBS - $700,000/30 Seconds
With the cost of airing the NCAA men's basketball tournament being a little more than $700 million per year between CBS and Turner, it is clear that advertising rights will be expensive during the tournament. This is especially the case when the tournament moves into its later stages. The two games that take place in the Final Four before the championship game will see charges of $700,000 for each thirty seconds of advertising.
3 BCS Championship Game - ESPN - $1.1 Million/30 Seconds
The cost of sponsoring the game that determines college football's national championship has gone up by a bit in recent years. It was worth $950,000 for 30 seconds in 2009 and is now at $1.1 million. The value of this space may go up again in the 2014 season as the NCAA moves towards a four-team playoff format. This could increase the total due to the added certainty of who the best team in the game is.
2 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship - CBS - $1.4 Million/30 Seconds
College sports continues to dominate the top five spots on this list. While the Final Four's charge for television advertising is big, it is worth even more during the final game of March Madness. The final game of the tournament comes with a $1.4 million price tag for ad space. The 2013 championship game between Louisville and Michigan had 23.4 million viewers, justifying the high charge of advertising during this match.
1 Super Bowl - varies by year - $4 Million/30 Seconds
The Super Bowl has always been one of the most expensive programs during which to advertise. It cost $110,000 for an ad during Super Bowl X in 1976, for instance. That't equivalent to about $440,000 with inflation. But that's nothing compared to what it costs today. The fact that over 100 million people around the United States are expected to watch the game each year makes it so companies will not only pay big bucks to obtain ad time, but also bring out unique commercials that often air only once on broadcast TV in their lives. These quirky advertising techniques add to the fanfare surrounding the Super Bowl and probably boost viewership considerably in and of themselves. All in all, Super Bowls account for the 21 most viewed broadcasts in American TV history.