Super Bowl by the Numbers
By Kacy Burdette, Jon Chew, Stacy Jones, Analee Kasudia, and Benjamin Snyder
America’s biggest sports event of the year—in data, charts, trends, and graphs.
In 1967, the cost of a 30-second spot during Super Bowl I stood at around $42,000. Fast forward, and for Super Bowl 50, the price tag for a 30-second appearance in the NFL’s main event is a cool $5 million. That’s an inflation rate of 11,800%—and shows that when it comes to the Super Bowl, money rules. From 2005 to 2014, the Super Bowl ad machine has generated $2.19 billion in network advertising sales, and the average cost of an ad spot has increased by 75%.
What trends exist for this year’s group of Super Bowl ads? They are happier, for one—last year’s bunch of commercials were noted for being a sad, somber lot, and viewers of Super Bowl 50 are expected to see a lot more ads of the lighter variety, reported the New York Times. So far, ads from Heinz, Toyota, and even the NFL have gone the feel-good route. The other is the use of more famous faces. Ad Age has coined this year the “Celeb Bowl,” and so far, there are an estimated 40 celebrities that have been used in Super Bowl ads, according to real-time advertisement tracker iSpot.tv. That figure eclipses last year’s count of 27 celebrities at the same stage.
Once, all brands needed to do for a Super Bowl was come up with a winning television commercial. Now, they need to engage audiences across different media, including via every social media channel available. One change over the years is how early companies are releasing their Super Bowl ads. For instance, more than half of all tracked advertisers have already released their ads or a teaser-variation of it online, according to marketing data company Origami Logic. The Pokémon Company led the way by putting out their full-length commercial 13 days in advance. So far, 43 brands have released 73 ads or teasers, according to iSpot.tv, and there have already been around 275 million total views on Facebook, YouTube, and iSpot.tv. So which brands have scored well for Super Bowl 50 so far? Pokémon has been the most engaged brand by far, with more than 650,000 engagements, such as likes, comments, shares and retweets, according to Origami Logic. That’s five times more than all other brands. A look at the Salesforce Big Game Social Tracker reveals a different leader: Hyundai, which is beating out its competition based on the total volume of social media mentions.
Over the past 49 Super Bowls, some teams have simply dominated their rivals. For instance, there are three teams that have made eight Super Bowl appearances over the years, according to NFL data. Those teams are the Dallas Cowboys, the New England Patriots, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On the flip side, there are four teams who’ve failed to ever make it to the Super Bowl, including the Cleveland Browns, the Detroit Lions, the Houston Texans, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Click through the timeline to see the history of the Super Bowl and the teams that made it over the past 50 years.
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Veteran quarterback Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos is making his fourth Super Bowl appearance this year in hopes of winning his second ring. It’s also quite possibly the last game of his career. Quarterback Cam Newton of the Panthers, meanwhile, is making his first Super Bowl appearance. Both athletes have quite a few similarities, too. Both were first round draft picks: Manning in 1998 to the Colts and Newton in 2011 to the Panthers. Both also happen to be the NFL’s top spokespeople for Gatorade (PEP). Thanks to brands like Nationwide Insurance and Papa John’s (PZZA), Manning earns around $12 million in endorsement deals. Newton is estimated to earn $11 million from brands like Under Armour (UA) and yogurt-maker Dannon. The match-up is a good one for sports, too, with one a veteran quarterback likely ending his career and the other relatively just getting started.
Fortune examined quarterbacks who have started in a Super Bowl and how many they actually won. Last year, Tom Brady became the first quarterback to start in six Super Bowls, beating out the legendary John Elway in the process. There are only six quarterbacks who have won every Super Bowl they have started. If Manning wins on Sunday, he will be tied with younger brother Eli in Super Bowl wins. But he’s up against some stiff competition based on how the season’s gone for Newton and his Carolina Panthers.
After compiling data on Google search traffic for the game, Fortune uncovered a surprising trend: people aren’t looking up the Super Bowl nearly as much as back in 2011, at least through this traditional tech. Five years ago, it appears that search traffic on Google peaked—and it’s been on a downward spiral ever since.
New Orleans and Miami have hosted the Super Bowl the most. The Louisiana Superdome has been used by the NFL seven times and last hosted in 2013. In 2016, the game will be held in San Francisco for the second time at Levi’s Stadium. In the next two years, Houston’s hosting in 2017 and Minneapolis got the game for 2018.
If you can’t shell out thousands to attend the Super Bowl, chances are you’ll be at home watching on television like nearly everyone else in the U.S. and abroad—although other means are becoming increasingly popular, as Fortune reported. Over the years, Nielsen ratings for the Super Bowl have remained pretty steady. And good news for the NFL: it appears that the ratings have been on the rise since about 2001.
If you’re looking to nab a Super Bowl ticket at the last minute, chances are, you’re going to have to pay a hefty price. Right after the conference championship games were played, ticket marketplace SeatGeek found that the overall average resale price for a Super Bowl 50 ticket came in at around $5,178. That tracked as not just the most expensive Super Bowl ticket ever, but was on pace to become the priciest event in SeatGeek’s database. Since then, the average price has dropped to $4,841, and if this holds, would officially beat the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight for the highest ticket price. “I think there is a very legitimate chance,” company analyst Chris Leyden told Fortune. There’s like to be a large portion of locals at the game. According to Stubhub, 27% of buyers so far are from California, which is almost three times more than customers from North Carolina. People are also paying a wide range for their tickets, from $1,222 for a seat in the upper tiers, to $27,983 for a lower prime club view near the 50-yard line.
To bet or not to bet, that is the question. Around $4.2 billion worth of bets are expected to be placed on Super Bowl 50, and 97% will probably be illegal. That’s an 8% jump over the previous year, according to the American Gaming Association. But even if you just open legal sportsbooks, the growth of the gambling market on the NFL’s marque game has been striking. Bets placed with Las Vegas sportsbooks has seen a roughly 27% increase over the last 10 years. Last year, over $100 million was wagered on the Super Bowl for the first time since bets were tracked in 1991. This year, the Carolina Panthers have opened as a 5.5-point favorite over the Denver Broncos, and you can also choose from over 500 prop bets on random happenings, such as what color will Beyonce’s shoes be during the halftime show.
The forecast for Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, Feb. 7, in Santa Clara, California is light winds with a possible kickoff temperature near 70 degrees, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Edwards. Most Super Bowls are played in warmer weather climates, probably because all of the games were played outside until 1978 when Super Bowl XII was played at the Louisiana Superdome. The coldest outdoor Super Bowl to date was Super Bowl VI in 1972. At that time, the Louisiana Superdome wasn’t ready for the game so it was played outside in Tulane Stadium with a temperature of just 39 degrees. A year later the hottest Super Bowl VII was played in Los Angeles at 84 degrees.
Illustrations by Getty Images
Editor’s Note: All charts are based off of pre-Super Bowl 50 data.