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The Best Super Bowl in History Fails to Produce Ratings Records

Last Sunday, Tom Brady led the New England Patriots back from 25 points down to win Super Bowl LI in dramatic fashion over the Atlanta Falcons. The game was truly epic. It had the first overtime and the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. While the game lived up to the billing as perhaps the greatest ever, its ratings disappointed by Super Bowl standards.

The Fox telecast of the game attracted 111.3 million viewers, which represents a minor decrease from the 111.9 million people who watched Super Bowl 50. 2017 was the second straight year that Super Bowl ratings dropped.

This is largely due to the game flow of the Super Bowl. As the Falcons stretched their lead to 25 points in the 3rd quarter, Super Bowl ratings plummeted. In the Patriots’ home market of Boston, ratings fell by four points as no Super Bowl team had ever surmounted such a deficit. As the Patriots began to mount its historic comeback, the game’s ratings made a swift recovery. Super Bowl LI peaked from 10:00 to 10:30 pm with a 52.1 rating and a 74 share, higher than any other individual point in the past two Super Bowls.

Fox raked in a whopping $509.6 million in ad revenue from the game itself. Brands spent close to $5 million to advertise in the Super Bowl. The additional commercial time from the overtime period helped Fox push its revenue to over half a billion. As Fox Sports president Eric Shanks said, Super Bowl revenue has “become a little bit bulletproof.”

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September 18, 2019