The audience for the Super Bowl saw a year-to-year increase for the first time since 2015, as 99.9 million TV viewers watched the Kansas City Chiefs’ 31-20 come-from-behind victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Nielsen data showed the Fox telecast of the game from Miami was up nearly 1.5% over last year’s contest between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams, which scored the smallest Super Bowl audience since 2008.
Although the Super Bowl is by far the most dominant perennial TV event, it has declined slightly in each of the last four years. An overall decline in TV usage, as many consumers now use streaming devices for video content, is likely a factor.
Fox offered a stream of Super Bowl LIV, which, along with the Spanish-language feed on Fox Deportes, raised the audience for the game to 102 million viewers. Last year, the total Super Bowl audience on CBS, ESPN Deportes and streaming platforms combined to average 100.7 million viewers.
Last year’s 11-year low was attributed to the lack of offensive action in the game. Ratings for the NFL’s regular season have grown in the last two years, attributed in part to an increase in scoring.
Super Bowl LIV had plenty of action, with the Chiefs scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 10-point deficit in their victory over the 49ers. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was named most valuable player in the game, solidifying his status as the NFL’s biggest young star.
The game also was helped by a return to halftime entertainment spectacle, led by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. The performance, which included a few pro-immigration messages and a lot of booty-shaking, was widely discussed on social media.
The halftime show was watched by 103 million viewers on Fox, which was higher than the average for the overall game.
The full day — which included a pregame show watched by 21.6 million viewers — is expected to be an ad revenue bonanza for Fox, which saw the national ads for the game sell out back in November for more than $5 million per 30-second commercial. Commercials shown only on the stream went for between $300,000 and $400,000.
The 60-second commercial for Jeep that featured Bill Murray reprising his “Groundhog Day” role ranked at the top of USA Today’s annual Ad Meter, which uses consumer responses to rate the Super Bowl ads.
The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., which ranks Super Bowl spots by marketing effectiveness, named "#BeforeAlexa” — the spot featuring Ellen DeGeneres for Amazon’s Alexa device — as its top choice.