Super Bowl audience down five percent from last year, early data show

US

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sunday’s Super Bowl victory by the New England Patriots drew 98.2 million viewers on CBS Corp’s U.S. television network, a 5 percent drop from last year’s game, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings data released on Monday.

NFL Football – Super Bowl LIII – New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams – Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. – February 3, 2019. New England Patriots’ Sony Michel scores their first touchdown. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The humdrum 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams, the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever, marked the second year in a row of ratings declines and the lowest viewership since 2009, following last year’s 7 percent drop to 103.4 million viewers who watched the Philadelphia Eagles win their first Super Bowl.

“It suffered from not being a very good game,” Patrice Cucinello, a director at Fitch Ratings credit agency, said of the game that featured just one touchdown. “A 13 to 3 defeat with the Rams barely putting up a show didn’t really help the numbers.”

However the number of people who streamed the game on a computer or mobile device was up 20 percent, to 7.5 million, bringing total viewership on all platforms to 100.7 million, CBS said.

A number of factors likely hurt television ratings this year.

“The decline can probably be explained by the fact that this was a fairly unappealing matchup, then also a boring game,” said Victor Matheson, a sports economics professor at College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts.

There is also Patriots fatigue.

“Everyone outside of New England is tired of seeing Brady and Belichick in the Super Bowl,” Matheson said of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who together have reached nine Super Bowls since 2002.

The Rams, too, are “just not a very popular team yet,” said Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing analyst at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco. And “nobody was terribly excited about the halftime show.”

Despite the second year of declining Super Bowl numbers, average viewership rose 5 percent during this year’s regular NFL season. It also remains by far the single most watched American event of the year, making it a gold mine for advertisers.

The game was watched in an average 49.3 million homes, and 67 percent of U.S. homes with televisions in use were tuned to the telecast.

Ad spots averaged $5.2 million for a 30-second slot this year.

“They are still able to command higher and higher amounts of money for their advertising, because sports are one of the last things we watch live, which makes it much harder for people to avoid the commercials,” Matheson said.

CBS is estimated to have generated $382 million in advertising revenue, the third-largest amount in the game’s 53-year history, according to research firm Kantar Media.

Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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