Television’s annual premier event, the Super Bowl, arrives once more on Sunday, February 12.
Of course, you would expect the championship game of the long-dominant league in American sports to assume that title. But 18 months ago, there actually was concern its massive potency might start to decrease in value.
Super Bowl LV had aired on CBS at this time two years ago. While it took place on-schedule, that NFL season was anything but regular due to the complications from the COVID pandemic. Empty stadiums, infected players, and several rescheduled dates affected the proceedings. There’d be no doubt the Big Game would tower over all telecasts especially a game that featured perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time (Tom Brady) leading his new Tampa team to a title over Kansas City with arguably the league’s top current QB (Patrick Mahomes).
But then, its final figures were released soon thereafter: a “mere” 96.4 million viewers, a 14-year low. Did cord-cutting and accelerated trends of declining levels of live TV watching finally reach the Super Bowl? Spoiler alert: an emphatic “No!” But at the time, the Fox network made the unprecedented move to sell advertising for LVII beginning in the summer of 2021. They were selling for their Big Game before NBC began selling for their Big Game (in the midst of the Winter Olympics) of 2022.
Then, near Christmas Day 2021, the actual culprit for the Super blip was revealed — the Nielsen company admitted that a “software issue” caused an undercount of out-of-home audiences (e.g. those viewing in restaurants and sports bars) since Sep. 2020.
All in all, it’s business as usual for the Big Game. Its 110+ million-viewer level seems to remain afloat while almost everything else on linear and live television is becoming more and more scarcely sampled.
Why would anyone expect anything different? The NFL is still quite robust. It accounted for a whopping 82 of the top 100 most-watched TV shows of 2022 Fox averaged 19.4 million viewers per window in the 2022 regular season; CBS did 18.5 million — both networks’ respective bests in six years. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” drew 18.7 million which is its best mark since pre-pandemic. And, at 53+ million, the Chiefs-Bengals AFC Championship delivered the largest conference title game audience on any network in five years.
This year’s Big Game is at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Formerly known as University of Phoenix Stadium, it was the same venue that hosted the Super Bowl classic of 2008 where the New York Giants denied the New England Patriots of an undefeated season. This Sunday, it’ll be the Giants’ bitter division rival Philadelphia Eagles as the NFC representative. Topping the conference since the start of the season, the Eagles have lost just one game when league MVP contender Jalen Hurts played as their quarterback.
Their opponents are the Kansas City Chiefs. For quarterbacks that have defined the decades: the ’80s belonged to Joe Montana. The ’90s, Troy Aikman. The ’00s and ’10s, Tom Brady. The 2020’s are still young, but already, Patrick Mahomes has taken charge. He helped bring the Chiefs franchise its first championship in 50 years back in 2020. LVII will be his third Super Bowl appearance in four seasons.
Manhomes and Hurts make Super Bowl history on two fronts: the first Super Bowl to feature two Black starting quarterbacks facing off — it was 1988 (35 years ago) when Washington’s Doug Williams became the first Black starting quarterback in a Super Bowl; and, it’s the youngest Super Bowl quarterback combo ever, at a combined age of 51 years-337 days, beating the previous record (Joe Montana-Dan Marino for XIX in 1985) by just 13 days.
Both Manhomes and Hurts enter Super Bowl LVII with some injury concerns, although barring catastrophe, they’re expected to play: Mahomes suffered a high ankle sprain in the Divisional playoff win over Jacksonville on Jan. 21; Hurts’ right shoulder issues caused him to miss games in late December.
Other Big Game storylines include the “Andy Reid Bowl” referring to the Kansas City Chiefs head coach since 2013 who was the Philadelphia Eagles head coach from 1999-2012 (he too led Philadelphia to five conference title game appearances and one Super Bowl appearance in 2005); and, the “Kelce Bowl” — the first time brothers will be playing against each other in a Super Bowl; they are Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and older brother Eagles center Jason Kelce.
On the broadcasting side, Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen — both, New Jersey’s own — will be on the call for Fox. They were the network’s B-team in their first year as a duo in 2021. Following the departures of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to ESPN last year, Burkhardt and Olsen ascended to the A-team And now, the guys will be announcing their first Super Bowl with Olsen earning critical praise for his in-game analysis especially in these playoffs. The positive feedback for Olsen is bittersweet, though, considering what is looming soon ahead: the just-retired Tom Brady beginning his 10-year, $375 million deal with Fox Sports to become their top NFL broadcaster despite not one millisecond of football analysis. Reports indicate Brady won’t be joining the Burkhardt-Olsen broadcast booth for the Super Bowl, but he’ll likely be part of the network’s pre-game coverage that afternoon.
Music superstar Rihanna will finally perform on the Super Bowl halftime stage. Why “finally”? Because she turned down the offer to perform back in 2019 due to the league’s blackballing of Colin Kaepernick, the Black quarterback formerly of the San Franchise 49ers who knelt down on the field during the national anthem before a game in 2016 to protest police brutality and racial injustice. In August 2019, the NFL partnered with Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by rapper Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, to consult on acts for the Super Bowl as well as to help promote social and racial justice. Rihanna was one of Jay-Z’s discoveries for Def Jam in 2005.
The Super Bowl ad rate sets a record each and every year. This year’s 30-second spot costs $7 million to advertisers, up from NBC’s $6.5 million last year. Among the notable commercials are: “SNL” alum Maya Rudolph rebranding the candy M&Ms, former NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski attempting to kick a field goal for daily fantasy sports portal FanDuel, Michelob Ultra’s remake of “Caddyshack” (with Serena Williams, Brian Cox and Tony Romo), Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul reprising their “Breaking Bad” characters for PopCorners, Alicia Silverstone reviving her “Clueless” role for the rewards portal Rakuten, former “Mom” star Anna Faris as Eve (as in, Adam and Eve) for Avocados from Mexico, and clssshc rockers Ozzy Osbourne and Joan Jett for Workdsy.
I inquired with professionals in the media industry to provide their ratings prognostications for Super Bowl LVII. Here is their analysis — you may also observe their guesses in numerical order:
Marc Berman, Editor-in-Chief of Programming Insider
Despite the pattern of erosion across all media platforms, sports is still the go to destination, particularly The Super Bowl. And I am optimistically predicting 114.1 million viewers for the Philadelphia Eagles versus the Kansas City Chiefs (not to mention Rihanna in the Half-Time show) on Fox.
Mark Cuban, “Shark Tank” entrepreneur/Dallas Mavericks owner
Including OOH 118 [million]
Jon Zaghloul, TV & radio host of “Sports Talk Chicago”
Philadelphia vs. KC. Two historic franchises, two hungry fanbases, and huge name recognition. Viewership will most definitely be up, especially when factoring in streaming numbers, as well.
Justin Walters, WPIX-TV (New York) sports anchor/reporter and CBS Sports announcer/sideline reporter
Two very passionate fan bases with a lot of interesting storylines like the two black starting quarterbacks will produce a strong viewership.
Lori Rubinson, WFAN sports radio talk show host
My prediction is 118 Million since it was 118 million the last time the Eagles were in the Super Bowl (2018) and the Chiefs were in it (2020). Mahomes is a draw and Philly is a big market.
Bill Shea, senior writer at The Athletic
112 million. Fox doesn’t (yet) have a dedicated paywalled streaming service like its network rivals, but this is THE annual U.S. TV event so I’m not sure it matters, especially with proven draws like the Chiefs and Eagles. But the chaos of the domestic TV industry means there’s still a bit of uncertainty around the margins even for an eyeballs behemoth like the NFL — not that it matters a whole lot when the audience numbers are this high. And if it’s a sizeable blowout, the popularity of the commercials that draw in so many casual viewers may not be enough to halt a modest audience drain.
Skip (Arthur) Perham, Sports Management Program Director and Marketing Instructor at Suffolk University Sawyer Business School
My prediction is 114.5. Philly fans will make this game the second highest of the decade.
Lou D’Ermilio, LOUD Communications, former Senior Vice President of Fox Sports media relations
The combined viewership for Super Bowl LVII will be approximately 119.6 million. Given that the Chiefs (SB LIV) and Eagles (SB VII) played in the two most-watched Super Bowls all-time, and many consider them to be the two best teams in the NFL this season, with MVP-caliber quarterbacks, there will be enormous interest come Feb. 12.
Phillip Swann, TV Answer Man
I’m going with 117 million. It’s a great matchup with compelling storylines. Plus, streaming will further expand the audience, although not by the numbers that some streaming advocates will predict.
Danielle McCartan, New York’s WFAN sports radio talk show host
My guess is 114.9 million people…. To make my guess, I averaged all the FOX viewership over the past 10 Super Bowls.
Jason Jacobs, Northwest Iowa Campus Radio 103.9 (KUOO) sports announcer
I think a slight gain over last year is in the cards for this year’s Super Bowl. It feels like the league has rebounded from recent year lows. 113.7 million
Dan Cohen, Senior Vice President of Octagon Sports and Entertainment Network
114m – the NFL has been on a roll this year and with the exception of Eagles/Niners + Eagles/Giants the Playoff games have been competitive and duration viewing has been terrific. We expect to see the same for Eagles/Chiefs matchup and if it should play out as a close game this year’s duel should surpass that of last year’s total viewership # of 112.3m.
Jay Posner, former sports editor of San Diego Union-Tribune
I think this will be a close game between a large-market team and a team with the league’s most popular player. Given that and the conference championship ratings, I think Fox is heading for a record number: 118.1 million.
Evan Boyd, OptaSTATS researcher
We have two teams that are at the top of their conferences with recent Super Bowl appearances. Plus, we have one of the best quarterback matchups and one of the best that does not feature Tom Brady. Don’t forget that Rihanna is doing the halftime show as well. I will say 115 million
Scott Nolte, Northwest Iowa Y100.1 FM (KUYY) deejay-sports announcer
I based my prediction on recent numbers when Kansas City and Philadelphia is in the Super Bowl respectively. It seems like they both have a good fan base that would provide good numbers for viewership.
Ryan Glasspiegel, New York Post sports/entertainment reporter
115 million – The top seed in each conference being in the game should provide a little bit of a bump over last year.
Jeff Agrest, Chicago Sun-Times deputy sports editor and media columnist
SUPER BOWL PREDICTION: 120 million
Most numbers have been going up for the NFL. That trend will continue in the Super Bowl with two rabid fan bases laying the foundation for a big number. The Chiefs and Eagles helped draw around 118 million separately in recent Super Bowls. With the out-of-home number, they’ll eclipse that together.
David Barron, Houston Chronicle sports media columnist
118 million, based on the good numbers for the league title games and the fact that the game features two former Texas high school quarterbacks in Mahomes and Hurts.
Andrew Marchand, New York Post sports media columnist and co-host of the Marchand & Ourand Sports Media Podcast
The NFL will continue to dominate.
Richard Deitsch, sports media columnist at The Athletic and host of the Sports Media podcast
Not that you asked, but I like the Eagles to win by more than the spread. As for this sports media nerdom exercise, I expect to see a small bump from last year given Philadelphia is an incredible sports television market: 114.5 million viewers including other platforms and out-of-home.
Mari Forth, co-host of the Wrestling RHAPup at Rob Has A Podcast
I think this year’s SuperBowl will have a rating 120 million viewers. I think this will be the most viewed SuperBowl in years due to multiple storylines going in (I.e. Kelce Bowl, Andy Reid vs The Eagles) and Rihanna performing as the SuperBowl Halftime show headliner.
Dan Serafin, News 12 The Bronx/Brooklyn news & sports anchor
I think we’ll end up somewhere around 119 million. You won’t find a television in the Philadelphia area that won’t be watching the game! It’s the Super Bowl, we expect record numbers every year, no reason I see to believe that won’t be true again this year.
Frank Isola, ESPN/SiriusXM NBA Radio host/Nets studio analyst for YES Network
115 million. The Philly market plus Mahomes is a killer combination.
Jon Lewis, Sports Media Watch
Out-of-home viewing should lift linear Super Bowl viewership past the 100 million mark again this year, especially if it’s a close game. The combination of a big-market team in the Eagles and a familiar star QB in the Chiefs’ Mahomes already makes for a more appetizing matchup than Rams-Bengals last year. My thought is 103.8 million, not including streaming or Spanish-language coverage on Fox Deportes.
Jimmy Traina, writer at Sports Illustrated and host of SI Media Podcast
I’ll go with 115.6 million. Better matchup than last year in terms of the appeal of each team. Should be a close game. Major artist performing at halftime.
Timothy Burke, President at Burke Communications
100.9M. I am continuing on my consistently disproven path that casual viewers only watch announcers they like.
Ken Fang, Awful Announcing
This season’s postseason has done quite well for the networks and the Super Bowl should be no exception. Fox should seen up uptick in viewership from last year which saw an average total audience of 112.3 million on NBC, Peacock, Telemundo and out-of-home viewership.
Fox airing its 10th Super Bowl will see 115.5 million viewers both at home and out-of-home viewership and the halftime show with Rihanna will be at 120.2 million. Fox, its advertisers and the NFL will be very happy with the total viewership.
Kathy Kopacz, Kopacz Group sports marketing
North of 100 million viewers
Michael Fliegelman, WFAN (New York) sports radio producer/host
With Mahomes back in the Super Bowl and a big-market team in the Eagles going up against him, I expect a huge number. It won’t be lower than 116 million and has the potential to top the 118 million from Eagles/Patriots.
Joe Mauceri, WPIX-TV sports anchor and co-host of “NY Sports Nation”
I’ll guess 101.3 million viewers and a 38.8 rating.
Bob Thompson, Thompson Sports Group LLC, retired President of Fox Sports Networks and BTN co-founder
I will go with 112.5 million total viewers, which includes Fox, streaming, and out of home viewing.
Jason Clinkscales, NYC-based media analyst/editor/writer, regular contributor for Awful Announcing and Decider, former media research analyst
118 [million] for all platforms: I think the history-setting marker of two Black QBs starting in the Super Bowl is a significant allure to a game that already had some based on these being the two best teams all season long. The Eagles have become an incredibly strong draw over the last few years, and Patrick Mahomes now takes the Aaron Rodgers mantle of the magician QB.
Terence Henderson, T Dog Media
Both teams won Super Bowls in the last five years, so there’s no intriguing storylines other than Jalen Hurts going for his first title and both starting QBs are Black – a first. I’ll go with 111.8 million viewers.
Ian Casselberry, Assistant Content Director for Barrett Sports Media
My guess is 116 million. NFL regular-season ratings were a tick down, but this Super Bowl has arguably the sport’s biggest star versus a big-market team with a fierce following. Plus, I feel like there’s just an appetite for a huge, shared event right now.
Jason Yellin, Associate Athletics Director & Strategic Communications Officer at University of Maryland
The two best teams in the NFL with so many great story lines from Mahomes to Hurts to the Kelce brothers. Should be a lot of points and a composite rating of 115.0.
Pat Boyle, WFAN & CBS Sports Radio producer/host and sports play-by-play announcer for Rutgers, Villanova and LIU
119.2 Million. Last Eagles Super Bowl had the highest amount of viewership for any Super Bowl in the last decade+. Chiefs on the verge of being a dynasty. This will be the most watched Super Bowl ever
Steve Kaplowitz, afternoon sports talk radio host at 600 ESPN El Paso (Texas)
I’ll go 120.2 million on all platforms to set the all time record. The matchup is great and interest will be at a high, especially with the many different ways to consume the product.
Jake Kline, attorney/sports media observer
With events of this magnitude we need to ask what the casual, non-sports fanatic is likely to do. Total star power across the two teams is arguably greater than last year; that is, there are more household names. There are Eagles fans strewn across major northeastern TV markets. That being said, ‘Chiefs fatigue’ could likewise play a factor. Assuming the game is within 10 points or so, 115M. It will be the most-streamed SB yet.
Neil Best, Newsday sports columnist
Despite being drastically underpaid by current NFL No. 1 booth standards, relative unknowns Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen somehow manage to attract a sizable audience in their Super Bowl debuts.
Maury Brown, Forbes
112.8 million – with the country largely moving past the pandemic, interest in gathering for Super Bowl parties coupled with the storylines of Kelce vs Kelce, Andy Reid’s ties to the Eagles while coaching the Chief’s and whether a dinged up Patrick Mahomes can will KC past a very strong Jalen Hurts’ led Eagles team will slightly nudge the numbers from last year.
Jabari Young, Forbes sports and business reporter
110 million. The Philadelphia market will help drive viewership, but not enough to break a record.
Patrick Crakes, Crakes Media Consulting, former Senior Vice President of Fox Sports Senior Vice President Programming in Research & Content Strategy
I’m going with 114M Viewers. Anchored by still-blow-torch broadcast TV distribution and bolstered by heavy tailwinds from Out of Home viewing along with the market sizes, a high quality match-up, stars and recent trend of NFL ratings. All in, we should see near record or even record level viewing – baring a very bad game, of course.