Super Bowl Ratings: the Truth Behind the Headlines

Were ratings really “down?” Does hosting the Super Bowl affect TV ratings? One of our Minneapolis media professionals goes behind the numbers. 

Media Supervisor Lauren Akin

By Lauren Akin, Media Supervisor

You may have heard that the Super Bowl ratings took a hit this year…which is true on a national scale. However, it turns out that Minneapolis ranked #4 in viewership across all metered cities, and even saw a 2% increase over last year’s game. The household rating in Minneapolis was a 54.9, meaning almost 55% of total households in the MSP DMA (designated market area) were tuned in. Buffalo was #1 (56.4), Philly came in second (56.2), and then Boston at #3 (55.9). Surprisingly, this was the first time in at least 5 years that the host city ranked within the top 15 for household ratings (the exception: Phoenix in 2015 ranked #3). Inversely, Miami has consistently seen low ratings for the big game, and at the same time it is tied with New Orleans for hosting the most Super Bowls. 

Overall, Minneapolis has been a fairly consistent Super Bowl and NFL market–host or not–so from a local advertiser’s standpoint it was a safe bet. In terms of ratings for the past 5 years, it has ranked within the top 20–although it was #40 in 2015 when the Patriots played the Seahawks.

Despite the decreased national ratings, the Super Bowl is still the most-watched TV event of the year. In fact, the 2018 national telecast had just a 2% dip from 2017. These ratings are average numbers for the entire game and do not account for impressions streamed online (including halftime show clips or commercials), anything that was recorded, or larger groups of people sharing one screen. Many national advertisers see a large boost of impressions when accounting for the hype that goes along with their content being shared online before or after the game, and can sometimes be a key consideration when buying a Super Bowl spot.

Ultimately, buying a spot in the Super Bowl will no doubt deliver on a reach objective. But, unless you’re Minneapolis, just hosting the Super Bowl doesn’t necessarily mean TV ratings will jump through the roof!