For the first time, Nielsen didn't release any ratings data on the day after the Super Bowl because the ratings service said it was still processing data. "Super Bowl numbers are still being processed and verified," Nielsen said in a statement Monday evening. "We anticipate that final viewing figures, which will include out of home viewing, will be available to the media tomorrow. We will update the press and the industry accordingly when a final timeline is confirmed." As The Hollywood Reporter's Rick Porter notes, "that's extremely unusual: Nielsen's first set of ratings, the fast nationals, are usually released about 11 a.m. ET each day. Those numbers aren't very accurate for live telecasts, but networks can (and often do) order time zone-adjusted ratings that usually follow a couple hours later. Final numbers for Sunday shows, which include out of home viewership, are then updated early Tuesday. The first two steps didn't happen Monday, and it appears Nielsen will skip straight to the last one on Tuesday." Meanwhile, media executives -- who've spent years spinning ratings -- speculated that the Nielsen release is being delayed because the viewership looks bad. "You all know if it takes too long, they're scrambling to figure out how to make it look better," tweeted former NBC and Fox PR executive Vince Wladika Never good when it takes long. If it's a boffo number, you get it out immediately then add to that number as day goes on." Former Fox Sports PR exec Lou D’Ermilio added: “Takes time to get the spin just right!”
The apparent fullness of Tampa's Super Bowl stadium fooled many who were watching TV in outrage: "It was jarring, no question, to turn on Super Bowl LV, a football game held in the middle of a plague that has killed over 463,000 Americans, on a weekend when public-health officials implored Americans not to gather, and see a stadium packed with fans," says Will Leitch. "And a loud one, too. This was not the first pro sporting event in the United States to have fans, but it was the first one that legitimately felt full. How full? Well, when President Biden, speaking with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden on the Jumbotron before the game, asked for a moment of silence to honor those lost during the pandemic … it was very much not silent. The thing was, though — the stadium wasn’t full. There were 25,000 fans in a stadium that holds 66,000, and 7,500 of those fans were vaccinated health-care workers, who were there to be honored for their dedication, to advertise the efficacy of the vaccines, and (most important, obviously) to make the NFL look charitable and altruistic. The reason the stadium looked full was because of the 30,000 cardboard cutouts that were placed in all the seats kept empty to enforce social distancing. Now, I’ve been to a few sporting events with cardboard fans (I’ve even been a cardboard fan), and generally, they look artificial and sort of silly. But the NFL knows how to package and sell an image, and they sure did generate the illusion that there wasn’t an empty seat in the stadium. They apparently generated it too well. So many people were angry about the packed house that the NFL had to release a statement reminding viewers that just because their televisions might not have quite been high-resolution enough to tell the fans were made of cardboard, they were, in fact, made of cardboard."
Someone should've stopped Mike Myers and Dana Carvey's Wayne's World ad: "This year, in 2021, almost 30 years after Wayne’s World came out, Mike Myers and Dana Carvey (and Cardi B, for some reason) got together to spoof the scene from the movie where they spoof selling out, but for a real and actual Super Bowl commercial," says Brian Grubb. "Think about that. Or maybe don’t. It is really all quite depressing once you look closely at a single layer of it, let alone all the layers. Why would they do this to me, personally? Someone should have stopped them. Where is Tia Carrere when you need her?"