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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Ads for next year's Super Bowl LVI are nearly gone, NBC executives said Wednesday. Some of the most recently sold units went for $6.5 million — a new record.

Why it matters: Despite a decline in viewership, Super Bowl ads continue to become more expensive, given that the big game is the single-best opportunity for advertisers to reach a large amount of people at once.

  • The Super Bowl is typically the most-viewed TV broadcast event in the U.S. each year, although live TV viewership declines continue to impact its ratings.

Details: "We're writing 30% increases in pricing over up front, and we're likely to see that number rise with the limited inventory we have remaining for sale," NBC Sports Group Executive Vice President of Advertising Sales Dan Lovinger said at a press briefing.

  • CBS sold ads for last year's Super Bowl for about $5.5 million for 30-second spots.
  • Five months out from the event, Lovinger said NBC Sports likely has less than five available ad spots remaining. It's holding some units back just to make sure it has room for flexibility in the schedule if needed.
  • Ad inventory for the Super Bowl pregame show and inventory for the day of the Super Bowl "is also extremely well sold," he said.

Of note: Due to such high demand, NBC has also been asking some of the advertisers to match their ad spend with ads for other sports events on the network.

  • Lovinger said NBC doesn't plan on changing the number of commercials this year from previous years. It will be north of 70 ads, likely in the low-mid 80s.

What's next: Lovinger noted that next February will be an "unprecedented" opportunity for advertisers, as NBCUniversal will be airing the Super Bowl on a Sunday that overlaps with its broadcast of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

  • Despite the ratings pitfalls during the Summer Olympics due to the pandemic, he said, "we have not seen any significant drop-offs" in terms of advertisers for the Winter Games.
  • "I would say we're virtually sold out," Lovinger added.

Go deeper

Ad industry growing at record pace

Expand chart
Data: GroupM; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

New estimates suggest the advertising industry grew faster this year compared to any point in recent history.

Why it matters: The sector's success has long been tied to the health of the global economy. But new growth opportunities driven by the pandemic, like e-commerce, have allowed the industry to flourish despite wider economic constraints from the pandemic.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Trump's attempt to shield documents from Jan. 6 committee

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday night a bid by former President Trump to block the release of documents and records from his administration to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the release of the documents last month after a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously denied his attempt to prevent the committee from obtaining the materials.

Senate Republicans block voting rights bill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor on Jan. 18. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Republicans blocked Democrats' voting rights legislation from coming to a final vote on Wednesday in what was largely viewed as a doomed effort from the start.

Why it matters: The failed vote underscores the Democratic Party's current uphill battle to pass sweeping legislation in a 50-50 Senate.