National commercials during the Super Bowl run into the millions of dollars. Local ads are costly too.
As in the Panthers’ last trip to the Super Bowl in 2004, CBS Sports will carry the game, and it will be broadcast on Charlotte affiliate WBTV (Channel 3).
While most of the commercial breaks are sold by the network, Channel 3 gets a limited number for local advertisers during pregame specials, which will begin at noon Sunday, and during the game, which will begin at 6:30 p.m.
In the 2004 game, local commercials were being sold for about $50,000 per 30-second unit.
“This time it’s higher than that,” said Scott Dempsey, WBTV’s general manager. “Considerably higher.”
Dempsey would not disclose the station’s commercial rate nor say which advertisers had signed up for game-day commercials, but noted that the local audience for the game was expected to be one of the largest in the modern history of WBTV, which signed on in 1949 and reaches 22 counties in the Carolinas.
“It’s a lifetime chance to reach the bulk of the market for people who don’t watch us regularly,” said Dempsey. “We will probably never have another opportunity to reach as many people with specific messages.”
In the 2004 Super Bowl, WBTV scored a rating of 49.7, meaning that nearly half the households in the region were tuned to the game. Regular TV series are considered wildly successful if they get a 10 rating. Currently, “NCIS New Orleans” on CBS is the most-viewed regular series in Charlotte and it gets an average 5.3 rating, meaning it is viewed in 5.3 percent of households.
Jan. 24’s conference championship game against Arizona got an average rating of 38.0 on Fox’s WJZY (Channel 46).
That is the equivalent of 1.1 million viewers, a record audience for any Panthers game in at least the last two years and is equal to average viewership for each of the Super Bowls 45 through 48. Last year’s Super Bowl was slightly higher.
Each year, the Super Bowl is television’s most-watched program nationally on a single network.
But when looking back through the most-watched shows in Charlotte in the 21st century, one program exceeds the 2004 Super Bowl broadcast, though it is a bit of a statistical outlier.
On Oct. 2, 2008, the vice-presidential debate featuring Republican Sarah Palin and Democrat Joe Biden drew a 51.6 household rating in the Charlotte area.
That was not on a single network, however, but represented the combined ratings of the debate posted by the city’s ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS affiliates. That rating did not include the number of local viewers who watched the debate that night on cable news channels.
Dempsey said that forecasts of a flood of political advertising this year in the Carolinas made local advertisers schedule their spots earlier to ensure there would be space for them.
One local advertiser will be Bojangles’. A series of spots is being created by the Charlotte ad agency BooneOakley for the fast-food retailer. BooneOakley is known for its unusual approaches, and the Bojangles’ ads will fit the mold.
They’re only four-seconds long, said creative director David Oakley.
“There’s a Panther tie-in,” he said. “In my opinion, they’re the cat’s meow.”