INDIANAPOLIS ( MainStreet) -- Super Bowl Sunday is a melange of full-contact sport, carpet-bombed advertising and pizza/wing/chip-fueled gluttony for the more than 110 U.S. million viewers who tune in. For the rest of the country, it's just Sunday.
The NFL, NBC (CMCSA) and dozens of advertisers and retail outlets really want America to believe that the world grinds to a halt on Super Bowl Sunday and any activity that takes place after kickoff has to be of the towel-snapping, beer-quaffing, prop-betting, cheer-yelling variety. With the kind of money they're betting on the big game, they can't afford the alternative. NBC just joined Fox (NWS) and ABC (DIS) in renewing a broadcast deal with the NFL that will increase the league's TV revenue from $1.9 billion a year now to $3.1 billion in 2022. Advertisers, meanwhile, have dumped $1.7 million into Super Bowl ads during the past decade, according to Kantar Media.
|While the Super Bowl is vital to some, viewers of the big game are outnumbered 2-to-1 by people with better things to do.|
It's tough to blame them for going all in. Super Bowl viewership jumped from an average of 97.4 million in 2008 to a record average of 111 million last year. But there are 313 million people in the United States, which means 65% of America was either just checking in on the Super Bowl every so often last year or avoiding it altogether. While it's borderline unthinkable to all the principals involved that a potential viewer would deign to miss American Idol artifact Kelly Clarkson sing the national anthem, Lady Gaga template Madonna do a jukebox medley of hits or the New England Patriots and the New York Giants play a game most casual observers swear they saw just a few years ago, there are going to be plenty of folks skipping out on the privilege.
The Super Bowl only seems ubiquitous, but is as easy to avoid as NBC on any given night. Though last year's game broadcast on Fox dominated the Feb. 5 prime-time schedule, millions of Americans opted for reruns of Undercover Boss on CBS, America's Funniest Home Videos on ABC and Who Do You Think You Are on NBC. The postgame for what was supposedly the most riveting Super Bowl in history ranked behind a ABC-sanitized version of Judd Apatow's Knocked Up -- the second-highest rated network broadcast during the Super Bowl broadcast -- in the eyes of several million viewers.