Even in a down year more than 103 million people watched the Super Bowl on NBC this year to say nothing of international broadcasts or the trouble calculating the impact of watch parties.
During the second quarter, announcers Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth threw to a break that at least in many markets turned out to be nothing more than dead air. 20 or so seconds later the game picked up with a wide shot. So what happened?
NBC PR released a statement stating: “We had a brief equipment failure that we quickly resolved. No game action or commercial time were missed.” While NBC is unlikely to inform us of exactly what happened it looked like there was a broken trigger to local stopping the planned commercial from running. Some control rooms reportedly responded quickly to cover the dead air manually – many did not.
Nationally, 30 second commercials were selling for 5 million per spot. You can’t exactly just void the deal and let that go. Now, in the case of a live event what NBC likely did was to realign their break schedule to cover for the break that was supposed to take place during the 2nd quarter. But what if they could not do that as happens regularly with more ordinary programming?
In this case, the advertiser and the broadcaster would need to arrange a make good for the spot. This is a replacement time to run the commercial for the same price for as good or better a rating. In the case of the Super Bowl it would necessarily have had to be multiple spots, because you certainly can’t wait until next year’s game, nor is there another program that pulls such a rating. The prestige associated with airing a Super Bowl commercial would also be a significant factor. I would have been interested to see what would have happened if a PR spin was applied to a lost Super Bowl commercial. How much extra digital attention could that have generated? Would it have been worth the loss of placement? Maybe. Remember when “The Interview” was pulled from theaters in 2014 and generated a remarkable amount of buzz for a comedy poking fun at North Korea.
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