The Nielsen Company's 2008 Guide to the Super Bowl


As most retailers and advertisers know, the Super Bowl is like Christmas Take #2 for consumer spending. In fact, according to Retail Advertising and Marketing Association’s 2008 Super Bowl Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, consumers plan to purchase 3.9 million televisions alone for Super Bowl Sunday, up more than 50% from 2.5 million last year. In addition, viewers plan to purchase 1.8 million pieces of furniture, up from 1.3 million last year.

So to sum up all of the consumer behavior leading up to and including the big game, The Nielsen Company released its annual Guide to the Super Bowl, showcasing  a wide range of consumer and media info about the most notable marketing event in the U.S. – the NFL’s Super Bowl – scheduled for February 3 in Phoenix.  

In 2007, an average of 93.1 million Americans tuned in to CBS to watch the Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears. The event averaged a 42.6% household rating, up from the 2006 match-up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks, which was watched by 90.7 million viewers and an average of 41.6% of U.S. homes.

The most-watched Super Bowl of all time was in 1982 with a 49.1% rating, which also happened to be the 4th highest rated television program since 1961 just behind the final episodes of M*A*S*H, Dallas and Roots Part VIII.  Of the top-40 sports telecasts since January 1961, all but four telecasts were Super Bowls.

In local markets, the highest overall local rating in 2007 – at nearly 56% — was in Indianapolis, IN., home of Super Bowl XLI champions, the Indianapolis Colts. The second largest local TV audience, with an average of 50.4%, Orlando-Daytona Beach, while Chicago, home of the Bears, ranked third with an average of 50.2%. Kansas City, Minneapolis and Milwaukee followed respectively as the next three markets with the largest Super Bowl audiences (see Table 1).

As expected, men watched the 2007 Super Bowl the most (41.1% rating, or 43.2 million viewers), yet a significant number of women, Hispanics and African Americans also tuned into the televised game.

Approximately 36.4 million women over the age of 18 watched the 2007 Super Bowl for a 32.2% average rating.  Among women viewers, those age 25-54 had the highest interest, with a 32.9% average rating. An average of 28.5% of African Americans (appr 10.1 million viewers), and an average of 15.5% of Hispanics (appr 6.2 million viewers) tuned into Super Bowl XLI.   


Last year, Super Bowl advertisers saw a collective 50% increase in Web traffic on the day after the big game, from 8.5 million unique visitors on Super Bowl Sunday to 12.7 million unique visitors on Monday (see Table 2). The 2007 advertiser to see the biggest jump in traffic was FedEx, whose Web site was below reporting cutoff on Super Bowl Sunday and grew to 1.1 million on Monday. Other advertisers to benefit online from their TV ad campaigns were CareerBuilder Network, Blockbuster, Hewlett Packard and CBS Sportsline.

For football fans, the Web has become an increasingly important part of pre-game preparations. In the week ending February 4, 2007, drew 2.9 million unique visitors, a 24% increase over Super Bowl week in 2006. attracted 2.3 million unique visitors that week, increasing 17% over the previous year. The NFL Team Sites had a weekly unique audience of 2.2 million, growing 13% year over year.


Bud, Nationwide and Snickers generated significant online buzz in 2007
The following chart shows the most buzzed about commercials from the 2007 Super Bowl (see Table 3).  While the Budweiser brands generated the most aggregated buzz for Budweiser and Bud Light ads with 20.6% of buzz volume, Nationwide and Snickers were the two most actively blogged about individual ads the day after the game with 9.8% of buzz volume each. Doritos also generated impressive buzz levels as a result of the brand’s consumer-generated ads.


The December 3rd announcement of this year’s Super Bowl half-time show performer Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers ignited an 800% increase in online buzz compared to October 2007.  Some consumers are excited and anticipate the band’s performance, while others question whether the band can top last year’s show by Prince.


012508-chart5.jpgTHE ADVERTISERS
According to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, the advertising intelligence service of Nielsen, the cost for a 30-second commercial during the 2007 game was $2.39 million, down from $2.50 million in 2006 (see Table 4). Total spending for the game reached over $161.8 million. 43 unique brands advertised over 43 minutes of commercial time during the 2007 Super Bowl, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The categories that advertised the most during the 2007 Super Bowl included Beer, Automotive, and Soft Drinks.

The Beer category increased its airtime from 41/2 minutes in 2006 to 5 minutes in 2007. Automotive also rose to 41/2 minutes in 2007. The Soft Drink category ran 4 minutes of ads in 2007, doubling the category’s exposure compared to the 2006 game.

Anheuser-Busch aired the most commercial time with 41/2 minutes for their Budweiser and Bud Light brands. Budweiser aired one 60-second ad and one 30-second ad. Bud Light ran six 30-second spots. Coca-Cola aired three minutes of commercials, making it the second largest advertiser. GM was in third place, airing 2 1/2 minutes of advertising.

In 2007, the automotive category included advertising for GM, Honda, and Toyota. GM promoted its Chevrolet brands; Honda ran ads for its CR-V Truck; and Toyota ran two 30-second spots for its Tundra Truck. 
The Motion Picture category, which tied for 1st place in 2006 (along with Beer), cut spending during the 2007 Super Bowl to 1 minute 45 seconds, airing four  spots for four different movies. In 2006, nine different films advertised, each with a 30-second commercial, totaling 41/2 minutes.

Nielsen’s Sponsorship Scorecard monitors advertising sponsorships of professional sporting events by measuring the time each brand is seen or heard on screen, and how many viewers were exposed to each brand.   In comparing all brands across all locations throughout the 2007 Super Bowl game, Cadillac ranked 1st from being seen or heard by more than 334 million homes (see Table 5).

In terms of product placement, football team brands showed up 14% more in the content of Broadcast Network primetime TV shows this year, demonstrating that the NFL has increased marketing efforts to drive interest in their games and the team that play during the season.   The New England Patriots occurrences totaled 176 with 10% of the activity taking place in Q4, while the New York Giants occurrences totaled 135 with more than half of the occurrences taking place in Q4.

The New York Giants product placement occurrence pattern follows that of the Indianapolis Colts last year where 40% of their brand placements took place in the 4th Quarter of 2006 and put this team at #14 on the most placed brands list as reported by the Nielsen Product Placement Service in 2006.  NBC’s Deal or No Deal showed the most appearances for both the New York Giants and the New England Patriots on primetime broadcast network entertainment programming this past year.  For the cable networks measured by Nielsen, it was Runs House on MTV for the Giants and What Not to Wear on TLC for the Patriots.

From Michael Jackson and U2 to Josh Groban and Prince, halftime and pre-game performances have provided sales growth for artists from a wide variety of musical genres since the early ’90s.

After last year’s Super Bowl halftime, Billboard reported that album sales for Prince’s body of work more than doubled. Nielsen SoundScan measured his album volume for the week that followed at 31,000, up from 14,000 the prior week. Similarly, digital downloads of all his available songs almost doubled, with Nielsen SoundScan posting 102,000 for Prince, compared to 59,000 the week before the championship game.

As usual, movie-going plunged on 2007 Super Bowl Sunday. Nielsen EDI found that U.S. box office receipts, which averaged $30.7 million on a typical winter Sunday in 2006, fell to $16.4 million on Super Bowl Sunday 2007 (2/4/07) – a 47% decline.  Over the past five years, the average domestic box office for Super Bowl Sunday versus the average winter Sunday is down by about $11.8 million.

Nielsen VideoScan data shows that interest for the Super Bowl even translates into DVD sales (see Table 6). Below is a look at the top 10 DVD titles for Super Bowl-related videos since 2000, the first year that Nielsen VideoScan started collecting sales data.


ACNielsen reviewed more than 72 food and beverage categories sold in U.S. food, drug, and mass merchandiser stores (including Wal-Mart) to see which products benefit most from the Super Bowl.  It compared average one-week sales performance during the two-weeks ending February 10, 2007 with the average one-week sales performance of the three-weeks before and three- weeks after the Super Bowl period.  The charts (see Table 7) show that Snacks including tortilla chips, potato chips and popcorn, had the largest incremental increase in total sales during the Super Bowl period and alcoholic beverage coolers had the largest percentage increase.  Within the snacks category, tortilla chips are the most popular with a 29% increase in sales during the Super Bowl period and a $13.4 million incremental sales boost.

According to data from the marketing company Spectra, viewers of pro football across the U.S. who typically watch on the weekend one or more times per month tend to be from town and rural areas.  They are primarily larger families with head of household age 40+ or households age 35+ without children. 

Claritas consumer segmentation shows that even though the Super Bowl draws such a huge TV audience each year, it is the most affluent households that are most likely to be watching. In fact, people in wealthy households, which generally have more than a $100,000 income, are almost three times more likely to be watching the Super Bowl as people in households with less than $30,000 in annual income.

According to Claritas, consumers that are most likely to be watching the Super Bowl tend to own luxury SUVs, have Blackberries, subscribe to satellite radio and own iPods. They are very likely to take frequent business trips, be members of frequent flier programs, and spend more than $3,000 a year on domestic travel. The Super Bowl has high coverage of viewers that are active stock traders and use discount brokerage services.


40% of Giants fans (adults in the New York DMA that has watched on Cable/Broadcast TV, attended a game or listened to the NY Giants within the past 12 months) have an annual household income of $100k+.  In fact, Giants fans are 26% more likely than all New Yorkers to be in this income bracket. They are also avid investors. Giants fans are more likely than all New Yorkers to have a wide variety of investments in their household, from stocks and bonds to second homes/real estate property. Also, 31% of Giants fans are female, according to Scarborough Sports Marketing.

Giants fans are more than twice as likely as all New York adults to have bought sporting event tickets online within the past year.  They are two and a half times more likely than all New Yorkers to have played Fantasy sports online within the past month and nearly two and a half times more likely to be willing to spend $50 or more on a single NFL ticket, according to Scarborough Sports Marketing.

Giants fans love to snack. They are more likely than all New Yorkers to have used all types of snack foods in their household during the past 30 days, from pretzels and chips to nuts and candy. Giants fans in the New York market are 13% less likely than all New York adults to be a part of a home that has used organic foods within the past month. 59% of Giants fans in New York ages 21+, consumed beer during the past month.  Giants fans in New York are 53% more likely than New York adults to have had whiskey within the past month, according to Scarborough Sports Marketing.

According to Claritas, New Yorkers will likely enjoy Anchor Steam and Sierra Nevada Beer or tailgate in BMW or Land Rover SUVs for Super Bowl festivities.  New York homes are also likely to play a game of tennis, rent a foreign film or a sip a coffee from Starbucks (Source: Claritas). 

Spectra data shows New York residents who watched the Super Bowl last year generally come from affluent urban and suburban neighborhoods.  Additionally, New York viewers purchase above average amounts of beer, health bars, tequila, scotch, and jarred nuts than the average viewer.

15% of Boston’s Patriots fans* (adult in the Boston DMA that has watched on Cable/Broadcast TV, attended a game or listened to the New England Patriots within the past 12 months) belong to a household with an annual income of $150k or more.  Patriots fans in Boston are 17% more likely than all Boston adults to be in this income bracket.  43% of Boston’s Patriot fans are women, according to Scarborough Sports Marketing.

Ford (25%), Toyota (21%), and Chevrolet (15%) are the top three auto brands among Patriot fans in the Boston market.  Patriots fans are also 40% more likely than all Boston adults to have bought gear/clothing with the NFL logo on it within the past year, according to Scarborough.

63% of Patriots fans in Boston have a broadband internet connection. Patriots fans are 17% more likely than all Boston adults to be a part of a household that has shopped at BJ’s Wholesale club within the past year for their audio / video needs, according to Scarborough.

According to Claritas, many Boston households drink Amstel Light Beer, and might be drinking that when tailgating out of the back of their Lexus or Volvo SUVs.  When Boston households are not enjoying the Super Bowl, they might be downhill skiing or sailing.  People in this area are likely to read Wine Spectator magazine and be members of country clubs. 

Data from Spectra shows that Boston residents who watched the Super Bowl last year are more likely to live in affluent suburban and rural neighborhoods.  Additionally, Boston viewers purchase above average amounts of pretzels, health bars, beer, trail mix and tortilla chips.