CBS Gears Up For Its 20th Super Bowl, With Ad Inventory 90% Sold And Tech Innovations Like 8K And AR On Tap

CBS says it has sold more than 90% of its ad inventory for Super Bowl LIII, and is promising a raft of high-tech innovations for its 20th broadcast of the big game.

At a press event at its New York studio facility on 57th Street today, the network got into many of the Xs and Os of the February 3 contest. It will be the 20th time CBS has carried the game, most of any network.

A suite full of executives, including acting CEO Joe Ianniello, CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus, Entertainment chief Kelly Kahl and newly appointed CBS News head Susan Zirinski, covered a wide range of topics. Highlights were offered on everything from how many hours its pregame show will run (seven) to the status of the Ad Bowl to preliminary talks with the White House about a potential interview with President Donald Trump.

While interviews with sitting presidents have been a fairly regular feature of the Super Bowl in years past, a Trump chat not happening on Fox would be a surprising wrinkle. He turned down a request by NBC for last year’s game, and has been vocal in denouncing NFL players and the league during the anthem kneeling controversy. McManus said talks are under way but had no update on the status of the interview.

Jo Ann Ross, head of ad sales, declined to say that inventory was completely sold out but she and Ianniello both said more than 90% of time has been snapped up, with spots selling for more than $5 million each. Ross said title sponsors have been lined up for each hour of the pre- and post-game, and strong categories include movie studios, technology, soft drinks and automotive.

While advertising is always a windfall for the network whose turn it is in the three-company rotation, Ianniello said revenue from the game will come in at hundreds of millions of dollars, the biggest one-day take ever for the company.

Zirinski said Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan will broadcast live from Atlanta, and other programming surrounding the game will also be tailored to the Bowl.

For the first time ever on any network at a live sporting event, CBS announced, the broadcast will feature a live, wireless handheld camera showing augmented reality graphics and up-close camera tracking on the field. The setup will allow the camera to get closer to these virtual graphics in a way that gives viewers different perspectives and angles, including never –before-seen field level views of these graphics.

The network said a total of 14 cameras creating virtual graphic elements that are completely manufactured will seamlessly blend in to the real environment of the broadcast.

Also for the first time on any U.S. network, CBS said it will use multiple 8K cameras, showcasing technology that is already being tested selectively around the world, with a major rollout due at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The 8K technology will enable more dramatic close-up views of the action from the end zone, as well as enhanced sound.

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