According to Kantar Media, which studies such things, CBS will take in a record $400 million from commercials aired during the Super Bowl. Factoring in the obscene rights fees the NFL demands, that could produce a profit of $3.98 or so.

(That’s unfair; you can’t put a price on these promotional opportunities.)

As the on-field gladiators battle to make Super Bowl 50, a quadrennial contest is quietly taking place. Vehicle dealers are fighting political campaigns for prime real estate on local TV, particularly spots in and adjacent to popular newscasts.

Call that one the Sleaze Bowl.

Dealers in some markets lost four years ago and are determined it won’t happen again.

“We relied heavily on TV during that cycle and Ohio was carpet bombed with political TV ads in the months before the 2012 election,” Bernie Moreno, who runs a chain of dealerships in the Cleveland area, told Bloomberg News. “We were not able to get our message out as effectively.”

So Mr. Moreno has a new strategy — digital ads. “We have completed almost a complete transition to digital and only spend a very small part of our budget on TV.”

The National Automobile Dealers Association says its members spent more than $8 billion on local TV in 2014. That’s an average of more than $100,000 per dealer. A big-volume chain in a major market might spend 10 or 20 times the average.

Local stations in hot political markets are scrambling to appease dealers with promises of make-good spots, even as the industry keeps an eye on Mr. Moreno.

Having to watch the Super Bowl on a rival station is a one-day inconvenience. Losing the Sleaze Bowl could have long-term consequences.

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