High-Action Super Bowl Lulls With Lower TV Viewers

Viewership in the Super Bowl slipped 7% to a Nielsen preliminary 103.4 million U.S. viewers versus 111.3 million last year. It was the lowest level in nine years for a close, entertaining contest only decided in the last play of the game.

Which is why I call on research executives to thoroughly examine all secular and other holidays -- from all angles -- TV and otherwise. The public needs answers.

Until then, let’s look at what we do know. First, some say the TV commercials were OK -- but not great. “Many of the spots felt handcuffed or held back,” says Eric Deggans, NPR's TV critic.  

And there was controversy -- with Dodge lifting Martin Luther King's words in a spot. Deggans: “It's never a good move to make a civil rights leader look like he's shilling for trucks from beyond the grave.”

The regular NFL season revealed controversial concerns over players’ pregame protests. But they didn’t seem to make a dent here. NFL player medical issues? Early in the game, New England Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks departed the contest, due to a helmet-to-helmet crash.



Perhaps the low numbers were because President Trump decided not to make an appearance. He always brings a crowd. Maybe he didn’t want to show any bias for his good friends, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and team quarterback Tom Brady.

As for TV engagement: In the 2009-2010 TV season, Nielsen said there were 114.9 million homes. Currently, for the 2017-2018 season, there are 119.6 million. That’s a 4% rise. So why the lower numbers?

Maybe the quality of the chicken wings for those watching at home wasn't satisfying. Personally, I rushed out to the grocery store for some last-minute Super Bowl food shopping, expecting to be crushed by other shoppers. Nope. Just a typically busy Sunday afternoon.

We all know the Super Bowl is less of a TV show than an actual holiday of sorts -- like other days when people traditionally get together for a meal/food celebration, coupled with a bit of entertainment.  

Are fewer people attending Super Bowl parties -- or other food and entertainment gatherings? Is Thanksgiving also less popular than it used to be?

4 comments about "High-Action Super Bowl Lulls With Lower TV Viewers".
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  1. Chuck Lantz from, network, February 6, 2018 at 5:10 p.m.

    I think you missed one possibility why ratings were down; ... both teams are considered to be way over on the right-wing side of politics.  The Patriots are definitely "over there", and though some Eagles players have expressed no desire to meet Trump at the White House, at least three men from the team thanked god, jesus and others when on the podium after the game. That sort of thing definitely turns some people right off. 

  2. Chuck Lantz from, network replied, February 6, 2018 at 5:13 p.m.

    I forgot to include another possibility.  How many viewers tune-in primarily for the half-time show?  Justin Timberlake was a lukewarm favorite, at best. 

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited replied, February 6, 2018 at 6:34 p.m.

    Nah, not this time. I think the measurement is off, too. They can't measure because they can't measure.

  4. Paula McNulty from McNulty Consulting, February 7, 2018 at 4:01 p.m.

    Re ad viewership/enjoyment - Here’s a very simple - but seemingly radical idea - that would help ads actually be watched. Put a small super in corner at beginning of ad with name of company/advertiser. Just at Super Bowl time. With all the partying, eating, conversation and distractions, it would help people focus on brands and ads they really want to see. Let’s face it, it’s too tedious with Super Bowl hubbub to concentrate hard enough to figure out if this is ad you really want to focus on and watch and you end up being easily distracted, away from TV watching during breaks. Creatives may not like idea, but real communicators who have ever been to a Super Bowl Party should.

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