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Super Bowl LV's 96.4 million total viewers, the lowest number since 2007, is in line with other sports leagues

  • "Sunday’s Super Bowl was watched by just 91.6 million people on CBS, the lowest number of viewers for the game on traditional broadcast television since 2006," reports The New York Times' Kevin Draper. "A total of 96.4 million people watched when other platforms — like the CBS All Access streaming service and mobile phone apps — were counted, the lowest number of total viewers since 2007. Still, the Super Bowl will surely be the most watched television program of 2021, and the N.F.L. is expected to see a huge increase in television rights fees when it signs several new television distribution agreements over the next year. After peaking at 114 million television viewers in 2015, television ratings for the Super Bowl have declined in five of the past six years. The 9 percent decline in television viewership from last year’s Super Bowl is roughly in line with season-long trends. N.F.L. games were watched this season by 7 percent fewer people than the season before. Many of the necessary ingredients for a bonanza Super Bowl were present. The game featured an intriguing matchup between the two most popular quarterbacks in football, Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. The weather Sunday was freezing across much of the country, which traditionally drives people inside to be entertained by their televisions. But the game itself failed to deliver, all but ending by the third quarter when the Buccaneers led, 31-9, with no fourth-quarter scoring or hint of a competitive game."


    • The depressed number comes from one basic reality: The game stunk: "Although ardent football fans continued to watch the Super Bowl because: (1) it’s the Super Bowl; and (2) Patrick Mahomes has a history of erasing big deficits quickly, the casual fan was likely to move on to something else — especially after the first half," says ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio. "The ongoing pandemic nevertheless makes the TV performance of the game more vexing. What else were people doing? For the pinnacle of such a quintessentially American sport, the notion that more than 230 million Americans were doing something on an early-February Sunday other than watching the game should be regarded as alarming by the powers-that-be. At a time when the NFL seems to be obsessed with the development of audiences in other countries, there’s plenty of meat still on the U.S. bone. Maybe, just maybe, the game would benefit more from efforts to come far closer to saturation of the domestic market. The Nickelodeon broadcast of the Bears-Saints playoff game surely represents a step in that direction, with the league focusing on spreading the football virus to a younger crowd. The league needs more of that kind of creativity in order to get the numbers to where they could be. To where, given the broader connection between football and our broader society, they should be."
    • What's striking is that Super Bowl ratings have steadily declined since peaking at 114 million in 2015

    TOPICS: Super Bowl LV, CBS, NFL, Ratings, Super Bowl