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Can You Guess How Much a Super Bowl Commerical Will Cost This Year?

"The NFL continues to be the gold standard of all programming."

Even though the economy has been operating well below everyone’s hopes and expectations (to put it mildly), available TV spots for Super Bowl XLVI not only sold out, as they usually do around this time of year, but they also set a record in cost.

Major companies are paying over $3.5 million for a single 30-second spot, up from roughly $3 million last year, according the Wall Street Journal.

“Ad prices for the big game, the most expensive real estate on TV, have shot up 59 percent since 2001, when a spot sold for roughly $2.2 million,” writes the Journal’s Suzanne Vranica.

Of course this increase in ad prices only emphasizes how important this major viewing event has become -- especially considering how much cable and television audiences have shrunk in proportion to the amount of content that has become available online.

"The NFL continues to be the gold standard of all programming," said Seth Winter, senior vice president of sales and marketing for NBC Sports, in a major understatement.

And he's right. Last year's game between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers attracted over 111 million viewers, according to Nielsen Co. It was the second year in a row that the Super Bowl set a record as the most-watched telecast.

With numbers like that, and with a sputtering economy, it's no wonder that the Super Bowl can be something of an "all of nothing" gamble for some companies. If they are able to finance the TV spot, then they are able to reach literally the largest audience possible in the U.S.

So, who can viewers expect to be wowed—or disappointed—come Feb. 5?

"GM, Volkswagen, first-timer Dannon yogurt, Teleflora, M&M, Pepsi, and Coke, among others,"  writes Kate Schwartz of Newser. "Anheuser-Busch InBev will, of course, be in the house, with a sizable four and a half minutes of airtime."

One last thing…
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