Thirty-second ad slots are reported to be selling for upwards of $5m at Super Bowl LIII, which is expected to generate around $500m for CBS, similar to the sum achieved last year by NBCUniversal.

Adweek cited sources familiar with the network’s Super Bowl ad sales, adding that there are no six-second slots being sold this year and that limited inventory remains available, mostly in the game’s second half.

Super Bowl remains by far the most-watched event on linear TV, with 103.4 million tuning in last year, more than twice as many as viewed the State of the Union address (45.6 million across multiple networks). And 2018 has also seen regular season audiences pick up by 5% after a sharp drop off in 2017.

The continuing attraction of the NFL is evident in the annual Nielsen figures, which show that NFL games accounted for 34 of the top 50 most-watched broadcasts, and 61 of the top 100, Ad Age reported.

Taking a slightly different angle, among the 50 most-watched sporting events, 40 were NFL games and NBC Sports highlighted the gap between the NFL and other US sports: the 40th most-watched NFL game had 19.4 million viewers while the most-watched baseball game had 17.6 million viewers.

And, more generally, the power of live sports was clear as these generated 89 of the year's 100 largest audiences, with the Winter Olympics, NBA Finals, World Series, FIFA World Cup and NCAA Div. I Men’s Basketball Championship filling the 28 slots not occupied by the NFL.

For advertisers, the NFL’s national Sunday afternoon TV window was the prime spot as Nielsen figures showed CBS and Fox together averaging 22.6 million viewers and a 12.6 household rating, up from last season’s figures of 22.2 million viewers and 12.3 rating.

Brands have also found NFL-related marketing success beyond TV, from Bud Light’s launch of bespoke cans for most NFL teams which has proven to be a powerful ROI driver for the beer, to Bose’s sponsorship which has driven favourable brand perception for the audio equipment maker.

Sourced from AdWeek, Ad Age, NBC Sports; additional content by WARC staff