Report: CBS broke even or lost money on Super Bowl


CBSSNL Kagan said CBS “likely broke even or lost a little money” on its airing of the big game this year. CBS’s production costs and fees exceeded advertising revenue, the firm reported.

SNL Kagan arrived at that conclusion with some simple arithmetic. CBS, the firm said, took in $240 million in ad revenue from the game and calculated that its production cost and license fees were probably more than that, reported The LA Times.

However, while the $240 million might be in the ball park on what the CBS network made in commercials from the game, that is not the only source of ad revenue for the Super Bowl, noted the story

Kagan seems to be forgetting that CBS also owns dozens of TV stations — including outlets in Baltimore and San Francisco — that had local commercial spots to sell in the game, and those spots went for a premium too. Maybe not the close to $4 million per 30 seconds that the network got, but there were lots of high six-figure and even seven-figure deals there. Overall, the network took in tens of millions in local advertising, a CBS spokesman told them. In New York alone, CBS sold local commercials for more than a million dollars per-spot.

CBS also sold ads for the Internet coverage of the game (a streaming record), which was basically found money for the network.

Other factors contributing to the bottom line include retrans deals with MVPD operators that carry its stations; the promotional spend CBS saved by tune-in on its own stations and network, vs. other media outlets; the $650 million it pays The NFL to air a Super Bowl every three years and more.

Producing the Super Bowl — just the game itself — runs between $1 million and $4 million–about the cost of one commercial.

A CBS spokesman said the NFL, including the Super Bowl, was profitable for the company.

See the LA Times story here

RBR-TVBR observation: Of course the game was profitable. The ads were selling for upwards of $4 million a clip, the ratings were tremendous—both on air and online. Indeed, if you add up all costs and revenues associated with 14 O&O stations, the bottom line for CBS Corp. is very, very likely in the black.