Fox sells out Super Bowl with just four days to spare

LONDON - Fox has finally sold all the advertising for Super Bowl XXXVI, with only four days until the big event.

It has been a long haul for Fox, with the broadcaster having to offer cut-price deals and other incentives to advertisers, including one with the US government's Office of National Drug Control Policy, which will require the network to give it some £2m in free airtime, although not during the game itself.

The unusual lack of interest in what is one of the biggest sporting events in the US calendar has led media commentators in the US to dub it "more 'adequate' than 'super'".

Fox is rumoured to have charged an average of £1.3m for a 30-second slot, down from the record £1.8m that rival network ABC was said to be charging during the heady dotcom days of 2000. However, the network will still be making somewhere in the region of £142m on Sunday.

It is not the closest the Super Bowl have come to the match without the ad spots being sold out -- in 1999, the last time Fox broadcast the Super Bowl, it did not have a full house until three days before the game.

Fox is said to have offered advertisers benefits such as increased stadium presence. The White House has bought two 30-second spots, directed by Tony Kaye, to air commercials that will inform the US public that buying illegal drugs helps to fund international terrorism.

However, the government body has a mandate stating that any media organisation selling advertising must pay for half of it, usually by supplying the equivalent free airtime or space.

Other advertisers this time around include Super Bowl stalwarts such as Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi, which will break a 90-second Britney Spears commercial. Levi's has been running a poll for consumers to choose the ad they want to see during the game.

The difficulties in selling the super-pricey space have been attributed to the advertising downturn and to the start of the Winter Olympic games, five days after what is known as Super Sunday.

Superbowl XXXVI will see heavily tipped St Louis Rams go up against the New England Patriots.

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