Super Bowl scores ad spend touchdown amid viewership dip

Though TV views declined, it was the most livestreamed game.

NEW DELHI: While there aren’t many takers for American football in India, or for that matter the rest of the world, it is a sports powerhouse and a cultural phenomenon in its country of origin. Last Sunday, the pinnacle of professional American football – the Super Bowl – was making waves in the world of sports, attracting 96.4 million viewers for ViacomCBS across all platforms, including CBS, CBS Sports and the National Football League’s digital properties, Verizon Media mobile properties, and ESPN Deportes TV and digital properties. Data released by Nielsen revealed this was a 15 per cent drop from last year’s 113.4 million audience for the gala sporting event, which aired on Fox.

The game, in which the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9, emerged as the most livestreamed NFL game to date, with an average minute audience of 5.7 million viewers — up 65 per cent from last year’s Super Bowl.

According to Nielsen, the average CBS linear audience was 92 million — the lowest since 2006. Even though linear TV ratings were a letdown, Adweek reported that Super Bowl Sunday resulted in a record-breaking day for CBS All Access in several categories: new subscriber sign-ups, number of streams, number of unique devices used and time spent streaming.

In India, Indian Premier League (IPL) reigns supreme among league competitions. IPL 2020 shattered previous seasons' record and racked up an overall viewership of 405 million, according to BARC. The finale alone, where the Mumbai Indians squared off against the Delhi Capitals, recorded viewership of 31.6 million.

However, these figures do not hold a candle to football, try as the Yankees might to dismiss it as soccer. Football is hands down the most popular outdoor ball game in the world, with the average viewership of FIFA World Cup finals over the last three editions being in excess of 909.6 million. The most recent FIFA World Cup (2018) had a viewership of 1.2 billion.

Record ad spends

Advertisers splurged upwards of $500 million during the Super Bowl, smashing previous records for the event which is routinely one of the most-watched things on US television. Corporate America's biggest names shelled out an average of $5.6 million for a 30-second spot, with automobile manufacturers, fast food chains and delivery apps jostling to get their brands the most airtime.

Market research firm Kantar said brands paid a total of $545 million for the 96 in-game spots that aired over the four-and-a-half-hour CBS broadcast. That figure is 20 per cent higher than the previous highest total garnered in the 2020 edition.

Car makers represented 14 per cent of the total spending, noted Kantar, followed by streaming services and alcoholic beverages. The amount of commercial time was at a high – the 57 minutes dedicated to adverts across the evening was a record.

Disney perhaps received the majority of media and fandom attention with the trailer reveal for its upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe limited series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. However, several mainstay brands opted to stay away from this year's big game, including Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Audi and Hyundai.

The single biggest spender on Sunday's game was ViacomCBS itself, which coughed up $33 million to promote its new VoD service Paramount+, which is set to launch on 4 March.

Online forum Reddit reportedly smoked its entire marketing budget on a five-second spot to send out the message: “Underdogs can accomplish anything when they come together around a common idea.” This was a reference to the independent investors versus Wall Street tycoons saga playing out over the last few weeks, which germinated from a Reddit community. The fleeting ad became one of the most talked about (and posted-about) commercials of this year's Super Bowl Sunday.

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