*More than 90 percent of Super Bowl time sold-source
*Prices running at $3 million on average-source
*Ad sales ahead of last year's pace
By Paul Thomasch
NEW YORK, Sept 15 Fox Broadcasting has sold more than 90 percent of its Super Bowl advertising time, with prices running at an average of about $3 million for a 30-second spot, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
Strong, early sales for the 2011 National Football League championship game suggest that advertisers are as willing as ever to pay up for the chance to reach a U.S. television audience of more than 100 million viewers, despite worries about the economy and budget constraints.
In describing sales, the source said "just a handful" of time slots remain for Super Bowl XLV, which will be played on February 6 in Texas.
A year ago at this time, CBS Corp's (CBS.N) CBS broadcast network had sold roughly 70 percent of the time it had available for the 2010 Super Bowl. It eventually sold out, with prices running at nearly $3 million for a spot.
A spokesman for News Corp's (NWSA.O) Fox declined to comment on pricing details for the Super Bowl.
Already, one major marketer, PepsiCo Inc (PEP.N), has said it will run at least six 30-second commercials during the Super Bowl [ID:nN15136994]. U.S. automaker General Motors Co [GM.UL] also will return in 2011 after a two-year break to save money.
Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) and beer maker Anheuser-Busch InBev(ABI.BR) also are typically among the game's biggest advertisers. Neither one has made public specific plans for the 2011 game.
The CBS broadcast of the 2010 game between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts attracted more than 106 million U.S. TV viewers, eclipsing the record set in 1983 for the finale of the TV series "M*A*S*H." (Reporting by Paul Thomasch; editing by Carol Bishopric)