From grass turf to the video stream inside your home, Comcast Corp. will have a hand in Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. "Top-to-bottom, it's really a Comcast event," John Page, president of Comcast-controlled Global Spectrum, said of the Feb. 1 NFL championship. Global Spectrum, part of Comcast-Spectacor ...
From grass turf to the video stream inside your home, Comcast Corp. will have a hand in Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.
"Top-to-bottom, it's really a Comcast event," John Page, president of Comcast-controlled Global Spectrum, said of the Feb. 1 NFL championship.
Global Spectrum, part of Comcast-Spectacor and based at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia, manages the state-of-the-art University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., where 12,000 people are expected to work on game day - opening the gates for fans, shuttling the Katy Perry halftime show on and off the gridiron stage in the allotted time, and managing security.
The Comcast-owned NBC-TV network will broadcast the game for an audience that could top 100 million - and 20 million subscribers can watch it on Comcast cable-TV and Internet network.
The company also will use the popularity of the game to promote the TV Everywhere platform - that is, watching the game on laptops, desktops or tablets away from the television. With "Super Stream Sunday," NBC will make the streamed game and related Super Bowl shows available for free and without authentication. This can be accessed at www.NBCSports.com/liveextra.
On tablets, game-watchers will have to use a free NBC app.
A TV viewer typically authenticates, or uses a password, to watch NBC-streamed content on TV Everywhere. Comcast hopes that the huge audience will experiment with TV Everywhere, boosting its usage.
The event is likely to generate $350 million to $360 million in advertising revenue for NBC and, thus, Comcast, according to industry experts.
Seth Winter, executive vice president of sales and marketing for the NBC Sports Group, said the advertising rates for this year's Super Bowl were $4.4 million to $4.5 million for 30 seconds.
"We are asking and getting record pricing in the game," Winter said during a press call earlier this month.
Most of the advertising spots had been sold. But Winter noted that participation by automakers, historically a big Super Bowl advertising category, declined noticeably. According to Kantar Media, Chrysler, Hyundai and Volkswagen were the second-, fourth- and fifth-largest advertisers, respectively, in the Super Bowl coverage between 2010 and 2014, spending a combined $227.4 million.
NBCUniversal has replaced the automakers with 15 new advertisers, Winter said.
John Swallen, chief research officer for Kantar Media, said the controversies over Baltimore's Ray Rice knocking out his wife in an Atlantic City hotel and the class-action concussion lawsuits filed by former NFL players in federal court in Philadelphia did not seem to affect the TV audience or the ad market for NFL games this past season.
But Swallen was concerned that automakers softened their advertising support for the Super Bowl - perhaps because of escalating costs for 30-second spots.
"When your leading category begins to cut, you sit up and take notice," he said.
Swallen thought it would be interesting to see if the automakers pull back again next year. But that will be an issue for CBS Corp., which has the rights to televise the Super Bowl in 2016.
Comcast likes to say that it is at the intersection of technology and media, with some diversified businesses that include theme parks at Universal and stadium management at Comcast-Spectacor.
"We can take advantage of lots of opportunities and synergies with the companies we own - like NBCUniversal - to get our customers fun, interesting and essential content like the Super Bowl," said D'Arcy Rudnay, Comcast's chief communications officer. "We can then package special pieces of content for our Xfinity customers on our video-on-demand service, like 30-minute highlights from all the previous Super Bowls, or our Sports App on X1, which will deliver live stats throughout the Super Bowl program."
Added Rudnay: "When you add the fact that we manage the stadium in which the Super Bowl is being played through Comcast-Spectacor, it becomes a very exciting and proud weekend for us."
- Bob Fernandez