What Americans Really Watched on Super Bowl Sunday
Well, the Super Bowl happened. Despite not being particularly exciting for anyone other than fans of the Broncos, Beyonce or Bruno Mars, per AdAge, “CBS' coverage of Sunday night's comedy of errors now stands as the fifth highest-rated Super Bowl in the last 30 years.” With an average of nearly 119 million viewers, one-third of America tuned in as expected and online conversation around the game dominated social media, generating 20x more mentions than non-Super Bowl-related posts. During the game, peak conversation was around the halftime show and the announcement of Broncos linebacker as the game’s MVP.
But what about those uninterested in the game? According to our analysis of self-reported Twitter data, 61 per cent of non-watchers were women (perhaps unsurprisingly as the NFL’s audience traditionally skews male), and they were 128 per cent more likely than the general Twitter population to be tweeting about not watching the Super Bowl. Additionally, nearly two in every five consumers not watching were Millennials.
What was this audience talking about instead? Of nearly 681K non-Super Bowl mentions, The Walking Dead Zombie Bowl Marathon led the pack by covering 17 per cent of the total conversation as the show’s fans prepare for next week’s mid-season premiere. And if it wasn’t zombies, it was all about puppies and kittens, with 97.6K mentions around the Puppy Bowl and Kitten Bowl from their millions of viewers. In fact, the total conversation was more positive for these two events at 88 per cent positive to neutral mentions vs. 66 per cent for the Super Bowl, despite seeing a smaller conversation volume against the game.
And Subaru resonated nicely with this audience, as its sponsored #PuppyBowlSubaru was trending on Twitter and Instagram.
Other frequent mentions by non-watchers included entertainment content (and content providers) like Parks and Recreation, Game of Thrones and Netflix.
And while this year’s Super Bowl did see some memorable spots and ensuing brand conversations – Budweiser’s Helen Mirren anti-drunk driving work, Publicis Seattle’s own T-Mobile Drake spot and Mountain Dew’s 'PuppyMonkeyBaby' stood out for various reasons – the brands who might’ve really won the day were tech companies like Uber, Google, Facebook, Apple and YouTube, who all saw conversation peaks without spending $5 million to run during the game itself. In particular, Uber was rewarded by customers for providing immediate utility in offering free rides home from Levi’s Stadium and YouTube benefitted from video links shared with friends around important in-game events like Lady Gaga’s National Anthem performance, the Halftime Show or the Broncos win.
Yet, the biggest win of all could very well have been for Twitter. Amidst rumours of its impending demise, a rough stretch of layoffs and unrest about proposed changes to the reordering of users’ timelines, Twitter proved once again that Facebook still can’t match up when it comes to live events, with updates appearing several minutes later or not at all on Facebook’s new Sports Stadium. And many even deemed Twitter’s live commentary the best thing about Super Bowl Sunday. But don’t take our word for it.