Many records were broken in this year’s annual NFL showdown. Tom Coughlin became the oldest coach to win a super bowl and Tom Brady set the record for most consecutive completions at 16. But the statistic that stands out most to me, has nothing to do with the player’s or the coach’s, or even the playing of the game itself. According to the New York Times, more than 2.1 million people watched the Super Bowl online, making it the “most watched single-game sports event ever online.” What’s even more impressive about this statistic is that this was the first year that the Super Bowl had ever been streamed online or on mobile phones ever. Beginners luck perhaps?
I understand that this is a mere fraction of the more-than 160 million people that watched at least part of the game on their couch at home or in a bar, but this is more than a statistic; it’s a message. It’s a message that times are changing. The Super Bowl isn’t what it used to be, and this is just the beginning.
Aside from the rising cost of over an estimated 1 billion chicken wings and 50 million cases of beer that were bought in preparation of this year’s contest, and the growing number of viewers each year, perhaps the most interesting annual growth belongs to Super Bowl television advertisements.
1995 was the first year a 30 second Super Bowl ad cost $1 million dollars and ever since it’s risen exponentially. This year’s average ad cost was $3.5 million, half a million dollars more than last year’s cost. The cost of advertisements is outrageous and it’s getting to the point that only certain companies have the ability to afford them. Company’s featured in this year’s collection of ads include Budweiser, Coke and Doritos, all of which had multiple commercials air. But the worst part about this outrageous investment on marketing is the fact that many of these commercials were available for viewing online days before Super Bowl Sunday. Analysts claim that by letting the audience know what to expect ahead of time, they won’t be disappointed by the premier. But if these renowned marketing companies are doubting themselves, why are they paying $3.5 million dollars for an ad? And if these companies can’t capitalize on selling of beer and fast cars during the Super Bowl, who can? and by what means must they be sold? It’s sad that as “important” and expensive as these ads are, they can be seen online for free before the kickoff.
So what do I think about the Super Bowl? and what does all of this mean? I think that just like everything else, it is being influenced by society’s ever-changing shift in technology and media outlets. The emphasis on meeting the demand of the online audience is clear, and it’s just getting started. Consider how the Super Bowl will be viewed 10 years from now; will anyone be watching it via their cable provider?
Just as beer and advertisements become integral to the Super Bowl experience, the internet is now important, using social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook to provide fans with a more interactive experience, rather than merely viewing the game. The Super Bowl is a conglomeration of contemporary media, colliding and reflecting on what has become important since last season, and what trends and records will be next years responsibility.