Super Bowl XLIII. Here We Go…

Thursday, Jan 29 2009

In 2008 an average of 97.5 million Americans tuned into FOX to watch the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots, making it the most-watched Super Bowl ever. The event averaged a 43.1% household rating, up from the 2007 game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears, which was watched by 93.1 million viewers and an average of 42.6% of U.S.Homes. 



Avg Viewers




97.5 million

New England Patriots vs. New York Giants



93.1 million

Indianapolis Costs vs. Chicago Bears



90.7 million

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks



86.1 million

New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles

It’s hard to say what will happen this year. Some viewers have already started to tune out during the playoffs.  Overall, 13% fewer homes watched this year’s AFC Championship game compared with 2008, and 23% fewer homes watched the NFC Championship game.  In Pittsburgh, the household rating peaked at 64.5% during the January 18th playoff game.   Arizona’s ratings were lower, with a household rating of 48.7%.

The highest local market rating during the 2008 Super Bowl was 56%.  No surprise that it was in Boston, home of the New England Patriots.  The second-largest local TV audience, with an average of 54.1% was Indianapolis.  Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Ft. Myers followed respectively as the next three markets with the largest Superbowl audiences.    The last time the Steelers played in the Super Bowl  (2006) the local household rating in Pittsburgh was 61.6%.  Based on the playoff game and the 2006 ratings, the Brunner media team is estimating a rating of 63% in Pittsburgh.

Household Ratings – 2008 Top 10 Markets









Ft. Myers-Naples


Washington DC




Kansas City




Tampa-St. Pete



So who was watching?  As expected, men watched the 2008 Super Bowl the most (42.9% rating, or 45.8 million viewers). But a significant amount of women tuned into the game as well. Approximately 37.7 million women over the age of18 watched Super Bowl XLII for a 32.9% average rating. Overall female viewership of the Super Bowl has climbed each of the last five years.

With all this talk about ratings and audience numbers, what can we expect from advertisers?  Despite rough economic times, advertisers are investing in 2009.   Sources at the LA Times say that advertisers are defying the economic downturn by shelling out millions to create and run  ads in this year’s game.   Spot costs on NBC are as much as $3 million for 30 seconds of airtime during the game.  That’s 11% more than the $2.7 million that Fox charged for the top slots during last year’s game.  

Average 30-second Cost


$2.7 million


$2.4 million


$2.5 million


$2.4 million


$2.3 million


The 2008 Super Bowl aired 50 minutes and 50 seconds of commercial time. Fifty-two unique brands aired commercials that competed for viewers’ attention for a total of 84 advertisements. The highest rated commercial minute was the Victoria’s Secret commercial at 9:44pm., which was seen by 103.7 million people. Total spending for the game reached over $195.7 million.

Some first-time Super Bowl advertisers will be taking the plunge in 2009, including dog food maker Pedigree and restaurant chain Denny’s.  A few of last year’s big players like FedEx Corp. and General Motors Corp., decided not to advertise during this year’s Super Bowl.  Anheuser-Busch has already reserved 4 1/2 minutes of advertising time -30 seconds more than last year.

Some advertisers have already gotten a jump, posting their spots several weeks in advance on sharing sitesIn 2008, the Super Bowl commercials placed on YouTube received over 6 millions views in two days.  Collectively, Super Bowl 2008 advertisers saw a 24 percent increase in Web traffic after the big game last year.

So which advertisers were capturing the most attention last year?  Thanks to a pre-Super Bowl push, Pepsi’s commercial featuring Justin Timberlake was the most viewed Super Bowl ad on YouTube with nearly 1.3 million hits. Pepsi also claimed the second-most views on YouTube with a SoBe ad featuring Naomi Campbell (399,202 views). E*TRADE followed up in the third and fourth spots with commercials featuring a talking baby.   

Who will be the favorites this year?  Come back next week to see which ads rose to the top in the minds of Brunner employees.

Source:  The Nielsen Company’s Guide to Super Bowl XLIII

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