Super Bowl ads almost sold out despite economic gloom

LONDON - US television network NBC Universal has sold 85% of the commercial air time available for the 2009 Super Bowl, despite concerns about marketing budgets during the economic downturn with some spots selling for $3m.

The group said advertisers have scooped up all but 10 spots for the National Football League's championship game scheduled to take place in Tampa Bay, Florida on February 1.

Up to a dozen spots have sold for $3m each and NBC said it hoped to sell the remaining commercial slots for similar money.

The heightened interest from advertisers comes after this year's final, which took place in February, pulled in 97.5m viewers and $250m in ad dollars.

The final, which saw the New York Giants' triumph in a dramatic last-minute win over the New England Patriots, was the second biggest event in US television history.

It is understood that average prices for next year's final are up about 10% from a year ago, when they averaged around $2.7m. This year's Super Bowl was broadcast by News Corp's Fox.

About 50% of the commercial time for the Super Bowl is usually sold by early autumn, but the pace has been particularly quick this year.

The boost to the ad market comes after NBC attracted record audiences for this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing.