The number of how many people watch the Super Bowl has traditionally grown every year – but has slumped over the last several.
In 2015, 114.4 million people watched the Patriots defeat the Seahawks in Super Bowl 49, making it the most watched Super Bowl in history. It is also the 2nd most-watched broadcast in US television history, behind the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.
That same year, 2015, Katy Perry’s halftime show featuring people in shark costumes, was watched by 118.5 million viewers.
The Super Bowl attracted 111.3 million viewers in 2017, but took a dip in 2018 when 103.4 million viewers watched Super Bowl 53.
But, CBS was quick to say that digital viewership of Super Bowl 53, including those who streamed the game on a computer or set-top box, reached a new record of 2.6 million people. So, while television viewership has been off, digital streaming viewership has been growing and helping to offset traditional broadcast declines.
The 2019 Super Bowl between the Rams and Patriots was watched by 98.2 million people. 98.2 million was are the lowest since 2008, when 97.5 million tuned in.
The 2020 Super Bowl, featured the Kansas City Chiefs rally against the San Francisco 49ers in a fourth quarter comeback, was watched by 99.9 million viewers in the United States.
The 2021 Super Bowl attracted 96.4 million viewers. It’s the lowest watched Super Bowl since 2007, when the Indianapolis Colts played the Chicago Bears. About 5.7 million people streamed the Super Bowl 2021, up from 3.4 million last year.
2019 and 2020 are the two lowest back to back viewership number since 08 and 09. The 2021 Super Bowl will tell us if the lowered viewership is a correction, or a trend.
Except for 2018, and a regression in 2013, the TV audience had increased every year since 2005, when 84 million people watched. But ratings have dropped for each of the last four years.
Katy Perry’s Super Bowl 49 halftime performance was the most watched halftime show ever, with 118.5 million viewers.
While those numbers are great for the league and for advertising, the situation has evolved into a catch-22 for the league. And I’m not coyly making a smooth allusion to two-time Super Bowl champion and Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith. Ok, yes I am.
The improvement of the home viewing experience of NFL games has been a growing concern for the league.
As a fan, why invest four to five hours of your life and several hundred dollars into leaving the comfort of the couch, to ultimately interact with bathrooms, and people, that feel like they haven’t been appropriately cleaned in decades?
The continuous shift in fan viewership will only become more of a threat to sport stadiums if they don’t improve the fan experience to keep up with evolving fan needs.
The University of Florida’s Sport Management program, created this infographic, which outlines changing fan preferences and the ways that stadiums across major sports leagues are working to meet these needs by undergoing major upgrades to their infrastructure and amenities.
Of note amongst the findings:
- In 2013, 17.3 billion dollars were spent on ticket sales for North American professional sports. That number is expected to rise to $19.7 billion by 2018.
- Professional football’s average attendance per game is the highest and more than doubles professional baseball, and triples professional basketball.
- 42.5% of fans want more, and better, parking facilities to manage traffic flow efficiently.
- 60.3% of fans want sports venues to improve Wi-Fi.
- The Super Bowl has never reached less than 61% of U.S. television viewership.
- Super Bowl 50 is the only game that has not used Roman numerals because NFL designers disliked how the Roman numeral for 50 – an L – looked.
- Super Bowl halftime performers don’t get paid. The NFL only covers producton costs. but, most acts receive a huge boost in sales. For example, Justin Timberlake’s music sales rose 534% following his 2018 halftime performance.