Late Thursday NBC Sports PR issued a release saying out of home viewing of Super Bowl LII increased viewership by more than 12 million viewers.
NBC even boasted about turning around the out of home viewing numbers so fast: “Out of home” viewership has been previously reported, but never before within four days of a live event.
I’m not knocking NBC or Nielsen. In a world where we won’t see Live+7 DVR numbers for that same Sunday for another couple of weeks, that truly is boast-worthy.
I give NBC credit (for now) for not trying to figure out how to spin this as the most-watched telecast of all time, ever, in the history of history.
Knowing that Nielsen says out of home viewing boosted Super Bowl LII viewership by around 12% is interesting. But is it meaningful? Advertisers have historically said “we priced those viewers in already.”
For Super Bowl LII like Super Bowl LI, prices for a 30-second spots during the Super Bowl were around $5 million. Advertisers have a pretty good case to make that despite the numbers growing via out of home viewership, the trend is still down (i.e. if you’d have added in out of home viewing the last two years, the aggregate # would’ve been higher the past two years than this year).
If prices stay around $5 million there will be a couple of ways to spin the out of home viewing:
1. OOH viewing doesn’t matter and has no impact on pricing
2. OOH viewing kept the pricing propped up at the $5 million level despite declines in overall viewership
But If the price for a Super Bowl spot goes up to $5.5 million per 30-second spot then CBS (and Fox who’ll have it the following year) will do an out of home viewing victory lap.
The unaudited boasting nature of ad sales data released into the public gives CBS some wiggle room for getting a $5.5 million per 30-second spot figure out there even if it’s maybe not exactly true, but given the 7% linear at-home decline, I’d be very surprised to see talk of big pricing increases from CBS.
If I had to guess I’d bet on pricing staying around $5 million per 30-second spot and OOH viewing getting some love for keeping prices propped up.