Remember Steve Austin? The Six Million Dollar Man? Well, if you hawked him at cost, you would still only be able to buy about 90 seconds of ad time on this year's two most anticipated television events. Joe Millionaire? He'd have to go dutch and split your typical 30-second spot.

Yes, advertisers are paying just over $2 million to air half-minute commercials during next week's Super Bowl or May's series finale of Friends. Despite the breadth of cable programming that now spans hundreds of channels, sponsors are willing to pay up nicely for the big winners. They just happen to be doing so in record fashion.

For General Electric's (NYSE:GE) NBC and Viacom's (NYSE:VIA) CBS, the pay dirt may seem bittersweet. After all, advertisers are paying NBC more than four times the sum of a regular Friends episode because the highest-rated sitcom series is coming to an end after its 10-year run. For CBS, the Super Bowl is a rolling stone. Last year, it aired on Disney's (NYSE:DIS) ABC and a good showing will only mean a more heated bidding war between broadcasters when the contract is up for renewal.

So who wins? Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD) will be paying to assure its spot as the exclusive Super Bowl beer sponsor for the 16th year in a row. Other Super Bowl regulars such as Pepsi (NYSE:PEP) and FedEx (NYSE:FDX) will be back as usual. But are they winners or simply high bidders?

No, if you had to nail one big Super Bowl winner, it might very well be a sleepy energy company by the name of Reliant Resources (NYSE:RRI). With 1.7 million accounts in Texas, along with a few corporate accounts in the Northeast, you may not know much about the utility company. However, with the game taking place in Reliant Stadium, the company is bound to get its name mentioned a whole lot.

Will you be watching the Patriots and Panthers on Super Bowl Sunday or have you made other plans? How do you think Friends will wrap up its series? Any good midseason replacements on the broadcasting horizon? All this and more -- in theTelevision Banterdiscussion board. Only on