The crew at FOX Chattanooga was pulling hard for the Titans in the AFC Championship game a couple of weeks ago, and they had thousands of good reasons for their enthusiasm.
"If the Titans had gone [to the Super Bowl], it would have been double money and double audience," said Todd Ricke, the general manager of the local FOX station as well as WTVC NewsChannel 9. "That local fan base is huge. It would have pressed the envelope a little bit."
Super Bowl advertisements are arguably as big a draw as the game itself, and the famously multimillion-dollar national time slots don't just nab the big names. Local advertisers also pick up cheaper pieces of that coveted airtime to reach audiences closer to home. Ricke said all of the roughly dozen 30-second spots he had available for local advertisers are full.
"It's an expensive venture for any advertiser to take on, but the thing about the Super Bowl is people turn it on at 11 a.m. and leave it on all day," Ricke said. "The price goes up based on audience levels, so there's a place for everybody to be."
The 2019 Super Bowl was watched by 98.2 million viewers in the United States, while the most-watched Super Bowl in history was the 2015 match-up between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. A record 114.4 million viewers tuned into that game, according to Statista.com.
Locally, the Super Bowl averages around an 80 share measured by ComScore, which means 80% of all TVs that are on are tuned in. "The last Super Bowl there were over 278,000 adults tuned in here in the Chattanooga [area]," Ricke said.
Ricke didn't share the names of any local advertisers for Sunday's game. "We told everybody, just watch the Super Bowl and you'll see," he said. But he did say there's a pretty consistent theme in the locally focused spots.
"One ad we'll unveil will be one a local attorney purchased to say thank you to Chattanooga," he said. "This community is one of the best when it comes to giving back, and you'll see that as a big theme this year."
John Livesay, a national keynote speaker on storytelling and sales, said addressing an audience directly is a smart strategy.
"What good advertising does is create a story that people see themselves in," Livesay said. "People love to be acknowledged and appreciated."
The sheer number of people watching the game makes it the biggest advertising opportunity of the year, but it's about more than just numbers, Livesay said.
"It allows you to connect not only with a huge group of people, but doing it in real time when people are emotionally engaged," he said. "That makes it so valuable for a local advertiser cut through the clutter."
The game rotates between networks each year, and Ricke sold three Super Bowls in his role at his previous station in Austin, Texas.
"That day can raise someone's revenue from an additional $100,000 to millions, depending on the market," he said.
In Austin, 30-second spots ran about $25,000 to $30,000, while local ad time in larger markets — Dallas or Houston, for example — runs $75,000 to $100,000 for the airtime.
The Chattanooga market is smaller, and therefore cheaper, than those markets, but the game still delivers an important payday for the local station. And if the Titans had been on the field, Ricke said, it would have been a game-changer.
"I promise you, we were all rooting for them," he said.
Contact Mary Fortune at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow her on Twitter at @maryfortune.
Super Bowl LIV is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. ET kickoff from Miami, and will be broadcast on FOX.