01.18.2006 12:00 AM
Super Bowl XL: More than Half of Ads to Air in HD
While the Super Bowl telecast itself has aired in HD since 2000, ABC says this will be the first time that more than half the scheduled commercial spots will air in HD, as well. (ABC's HD of choice is 720p). Last year, about one-third of the commercials were produced and aired in HD. Super Bowl XL is Sunday, Feb. 5, in Detroit.

Anheuser-Busch, the largest advertiser with five minutes of airtime, will feature its first-ever HD beer spots. Advertisers are hoping to tap into the growing HD crowd at home, with an estimated 16 million U.S. households now HD-equipped after the 2005 holiday selling season, according to the Leichtman Research Group. (No one is mentioning other recent data showing that folks in slightly more than half of those16 million households are not watching HD programming, although many of them are not aware of that fact.)

The Super Bowl remains perhaps the last regularly scheduled televised program in the United States where people gather in large numbers to view it, and where the huge audience and demographics are so inclusive that it's virtually useless to try to break the data down, except to say: There is no other game in town, in more ways than one.

Some marketers believe (with good reason) that many people tune into the sporting event primarily to watch the new commercials produced for the game (some of which run only once).

According to published reports in USA Today and elsewhere, advertisers think a lot of viewers next month will be gathered in front of new flatscreen TV sets, marveling at the large HD screens as much as the content. HD spots will make for a more seamless transition on-air from field cameras to commercials, especially since all content (including SD) will be in 16:9. The HD ads are reportedly costing an estimated 10 to 15 percent more than regular spots to produce, and ABC is asking up to $2.4 million to air a 30-second spot.

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