Super Bowl XLIX and the Ever-Changing Landscape of Advertising

Super Bowl XLIX and the Ever-Changing Landscape of Advertising

Whether you were rooting for the New England Patriots or the Seattle Seahawks, no one can deny that last night’s Super Bowl XLIX was a classic. As we have seen in years past, more people are watching the big game year over year, and viewing on various devices as well as social interaction with the game, are also increasing. With the increased television viewing, NBC and all of their platforms, worked successfully with advertisers to adapt to the ever-changing landscape.

NBC made the smart decision to stream all 11 hours of its Super Bowl coverage for free on their website and mobile apps. On average, there were 800,000 viewers per minute streaming the game. The major broadcast networks have, for the last few years, made this exception for the Super Bowl, but not other major sporting events such as the World Cup or the Olympics. NBC explained that the decision to stream it was made to “help raise overall awareness of TV Everywhere” but also helps position the NBC brand as a leader across all platforms, blurring the line between what is often called “traditional media” and “new media.” Can you imagine the outcry from cord-cutters everywhere had NBC not streamed it? Cord-cutting is indeed a problem that broadcasters and advertisers have to address, but broadcast audiences for the Super Bowl continue to grow (as do the rates broadcasters charge advertisers). 6.5% of households have dropped pay TV in 2014, but NBC recognized this was an important and hard-to-reach audience and grasped the opportunity.

The fact is indisputable that each year more people will find a way to watch the Super Bowl and share their thoughts with the world. It’s up to broadcasters to find a way to both monetize that spirit and keep viewers happy, while it’s up to the advertisers to adapt in order to capitalize on it.

30-second Super Bowl spot this year cost advertisers on average $4.5 million. For comparison’s sake, a spot in 1967 in Super Bowl I cost advertisers $42,000. The $4.5 million bought advertisers access to a 49.7 overnight household rating, a gain from last year’s 47.6 rating. This means that 49.7% of television homes was watching the game, a Super Bowl record.

On an individual level, the game drew an historic 114.5 million viewers, topping last year’s total of 111.5 million. By comparison, the series finale of MASH in 1983 saw 105.9 million viewers and a 60.9 household share, which is the largest audience for a TV series finale ever. Those numbers result in roughly a $0.04 cost to reach each viewer, assuming everyone is watching every ad. This is actually a bargain if you put it up against other cost per viewer models.

According to CNN, the NBC livestream of the game reached a peak of 1.3 million viewers at the point of Malcolm Butler’s game-clinching interception. Adobe Analytics said there were 800,000 viewers per minute streaming the game. NBC sold its streaming spots separately from the TV broadcast, so those streaming the game did not necessarily see the same spots as those watching on broadcast TV.

The game was the most tweeted Super Bowl ever – 28.4 million tweets were sent during the broadcast, destroying last year’s 24.9 million. The most tweeted sporting event ever was the 2014 World Cup semi-final between Germany & Brazil, which saw 35.6 million tweets. The most tweeted moments last night were the climactic Malcolm Butler interception, the immediate end of the game after the Patriots won, and the moment following Katy Perry’s halftime performance.

Of the 66 national TV ads that aired during the game, 33 used a hashtag. Facebook saw 265 million posts by 65 million unique users, higher than the 50 million users who posted about the Super Bowl last year.