Brent Cox crunches the numbers, adjusting for inflation, on ticket prices and ad revenue to determine why Super Bowl ads are worth so much.
From the data, it’s pretty clear that the increasing popularity of football, as it slowly equaled and then surpassed the popularity of that most American of American games, baseball, is reflected in the inflation of associated costs. In the case of the television spots, you can throw in two other factors, first the growth in size and sophistication of the advertising industry over the past forty years, and second, and probably more importantly, the splintering of the television industry. At the time of the first game in 1967, there were three (or two and a half, some would say) national television networks on which to advertise. Additionally, there were no home-use devices that could record television, let alone skip the commercials. As the television industry developed into thousands of channels, and a decreasing audience willing to watch it in real time, the value of advertising on the Super Bowl increased, in terms of the audience it would draw, and in terms of the actual amount of that audience that would sit willingly through the commercials.
More from Cox here.