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The History of Super Bowl Ad Spending

George Malone
·4 min read
Yes I Shoot models / Shutterstock.com
Yes I Shoot models / Shutterstock.com

One of the safer bets you can make is that costs — for goods and services — will go up. According to The Balance, inflation has risen in all but six years since 1929.

The average rate of inflation from 1913-2020 is 3.1%, Inflation Date reports. That means that if an item costs $100 today, the cost will go up to $103 the next year, on average.

Related: The Cost of Super Bowl Commercials Over the Years

The price of a Super Bowl commercial has far outstripped inflation, not surprisingly. In 1967, for the first Super Bowl, the cost of an ad was $42,000. Using the inflation calculator at CNNMoney.com, that’s $300,880 in today’s dollars.

Read More: How Much Will Advertisers Spend On This Year’s Super Bowl?

The actual cost for a 30-second ad for Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a bit higher than that at $5.6 million.

How did we get to this point? Read on as GOBankingRates looks at the milestone moments in Super Bowl ad spending.

Last updated: Feb. 3, 2021

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Anonymous/AP/Shutterstock (6643320a)Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi, center, speaks with quarterback Bart Starr (15) and Zeke Bratkowski, left, as the Packers trailed the Detroit Lions at Green Bay, .
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Anonymous/AP/Shutterstock (6643320a)Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi, center, speaks with quarterback Bart Starr (15) and Zeke Bratkowski, left, as the Packers trailed the Detroit Lions at Green Bay, .

The Beginnings

In Super Bowl I on Jan. 15, 1967, the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.

The game was broadcast on two networks and averaged 26.75 million viewers on CBS and 24.4 million on NBC, Nielsen reported.

Each ad cost $42,000.

Find Out: Everything You Can Buy for the Cost of One Super Bowl Ticket

Running back Clarence Davis of the Oakland Raiders is seen during Super Bowl XI action against the Minnesota Vikings at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CalifSuper Bowl XI Oakland Minnesota 1977, Pasadena, USA.
Running back Clarence Davis of the Oakland Raiders is seen during Super Bowl XI action against the Minnesota Vikings at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CalifSuper Bowl XI Oakland Minnesota 1977, Pasadena, USA.

Six Figures

The cost of a Super Bowl commercial didn’t go over $100,000 until Super Bowl VIII, when the Miami Dolphins beat the Minnesota Vikings 24-7.

A 30-second spot cost $103,500, and the game posted a household rating of 41.6, with total viewership of 63.2 million.

Did You Know: Past Super Bowl Stars Who Scored Big Endorsement Deals

*Pictured is 1977 Super Bowl XI

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Anonymous/AP/Shutterstock (6577908f)Joe Montana San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana (16) unloads to downfield receiver over rushing hands of Miami Dolphins linebacker Charles Bowser (56) during first quarter of Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium, Calif.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Anonymous/AP/Shutterstock (6577908f)Joe Montana San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana (16) unloads to downfield receiver over rushing hands of Miami Dolphins linebacker Charles Bowser (56) during first quarter of Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium, Calif.

Peak Rating

The highest-rated Super Bowl of all time came in 1982 when the San Francisco 49ers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21.

The game drew a record rating of 49.1, with 110.23 million viewers. A 30-second spot was $324,300.

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*Pictured Super Bowl XIX

Young Gordon San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Steve Young (8) runs over San Diego's Darrien Gordon (21) for a first down during the first quarter of Super Bowl XXIX at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami.
Young Gordon San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Steve Young (8) runs over San Diego's Darrien Gordon (21) for a first down during the first quarter of Super Bowl XXIX at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami.

Million-Dollar Milestone

The cost of Super Bowl ads crossed another threshold at Super Bowl XXIX between the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers on Jan. 29, 1995.

The price for a 30-second ad crossed the $1 million mark for the first time, costing $1.15 million. Despite the blowout score (the 49ers won 49-26), the game drew a solid 41.3 rating.

Looking Ahead: 11 NFL Free Agents Who Could Score Big Contracts in 2021

Skyrocketing Costs

The price of a 30-second ad took off from there, and it has cost more than $5 million for each commercial since Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5, 2017 ($5,399,873).

The Chiefs’ win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2, 2020, drew $5.6 million per ad. That cost is expected to be the same this year for Super LV between the Chiefs and Buccaneers.

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Apple Store
Apple Store

Apple's Famous Commercial

Perhaps the most famous Super Bowl commercial is Apple’s “1984” ad. Directed by famous director Ridley Scott and intended to evoke images of George Orwell’s book “1984,” the commercial cost $900,000 to make and made its debut at Super Bowl XLVIII in two spots, costing more than $1 million, according to Mental Floss.

Read: The 10 Lowest-Paid Players in This Year’s Super Bowl

Senior gentleman sitting on a sofa and watching TV.
Senior gentleman sitting on a sofa and watching TV.

Regular TV Commercial Costs

The cost of a Super Bowl ad has done more than outpace inflation. But in general, the cost of TV commercials is plenty high.

According to Fit Small Business, the average cost of a 30-second TV ad on a national network is $115,000.

Find Out: The 10 Highest-Paid Players in This Year’s Super Bowl

Mandatory Credit: Photo by John G Mabanglo/EPA/Shutterstock (7717482g)New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees (l) and Head Coach Sean Payton (r) Celebrate After the Saints Defeated the Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl Xliv at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Florida Usa 07 February 2010 United States MiamiUsa American Football Super Bowl - Feb 2010.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by John G Mabanglo/EPA/Shutterstock (7717482g)New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees (l) and Head Coach Sean Payton (r) Celebrate After the Saints Defeated the Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl Xliv at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Florida Usa 07 February 2010 United States MiamiUsa American Football Super Bowl - Feb 2010.

Wise Investments

You might shake your head at how expensive Super Bowl commercials are, but it’s also wise to remember that the game (and the halftime, and the ads) regularly rank among the highest-rated and most-watched shows on TV.

The Chiefs’ win over the 49ers drew 102.1 million viewers, making it the 11th-most-watched show in TV history. Of the 10 shows ranked above it, only the 1983 final episode of M*A*S*H* — ranked ninth overall with 106 million viewers — was not a Super Bowl.

Since Super Bowl XLIV in 2010, every Super Bowl has drawn more than 100 million viewers except one: Super Bowl LIII, when the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3. That game drew 98.1 million viewers.

More From GOBankingRates

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The History of Super Bowl Ad Spending