The meteoric rise of Super Bowl ad prices looks to be over.
CBS Corp., which will broadcast the big game from Atlanta on Feb. 3, is selling 30-second commercials for $5.1 million to $5.3 million, people familiar with the matter said. That’s roughly the same price as last year, when NBC sold them for $5.24 million, according to research firm Kantar Media.
The Super Bowl is still the most-watched TV event of the year — and the biggest advertising showcase — but the audience peaked in 2015. Last year’s game drew 103.4 million viewers, the fewest in nine years. Prices for commercials may now be reflecting those realities.
Super Bowl ad prices had steadily increased over the past decade, in some years making huge leaps. Between 2012 and 2013, the price went up $500,000, according to Kantar Media. It jumped $400,000 between 2015 and 2016. Now Super Bowl ad prices “seem to be peaking,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Geetha Ranganathan said in a note Thursday.
CBS has sold over 90 percent of its ad inventory this year, a sign that marketers haven’t lost interest. And this year’s game will pit the New England Patriots against the Los Angeles Rams, a matchup that at least features teams from two of the biggest TV markets.
But if prices end up being flat, it would be the worst showing since 2010 — when the U.S. was still recovering from the Great Recession.