Cross-platform ratings show the Super Bowl is as important as ever

The news: Super Bowl LVI was the most-watched Super Bowl in the last five years, marking a return to pre-pandemic normals and reinforcing the event’s place as a one-of-a-kind opportunity for advertisers and broadcasters.

By the numbers: In total, 149.9 million viewers tuned in to watch all or some of the game across TV and streaming platforms, with an average viewership per minute of 121 million, per

  • Linear viewership still trumped streaming, bringing in an average per-minute viewership of 98.1 million versus 10.5 million on streaming services.
  • The average ad during the broadcast reached 106 million viewers.
  • Viewership peaked during the halftime show, which brought in an additional 10.5 million viewers.

A year of firsts: This Super Bowl was a testing ground for the post-pandemic normal. The broadcast introduced new measurement tactics, a slew of first-time advertisers, and the event’s first ever Spanish-language broadcast on NBCUniversal subsidiary Telemundo.

  • As digital sports viewership has grown, so too has advertisers’ appetite for more robust measurements which take into account the changing ways sports media is consumed. To that end, NBCU partnered with to make this the first Super Bowl with ratings recorded across linear TV and digital channels.
  • That combined metric also pumped up the average price of a 30-second spot from $5.5 million in 2021 to $7 million. But that higher cost didn’t deter brands from jumping on board. Though several major advertisers stepped away from the event, first-time advertisers made up 40% of the ad lineup.
  • Those newcomers included some of the first major ad campaigns for cryptocurrency exchanges and the metaverse, with ads from Meta, Salesforce, and Coinbase.

Despite the surge in traffic, some of those newcomers failed to stick the landing. Coinbase’s ad, which featured a bouncing QR code, drove so much traffic that its platform crashed. Meta, formerly known as Facebook, also held a post-game virtual concert featuring The Foo Fighters that was underwhelming and riddled with issues. These issues prompted comparisons to 2000’s “Dot-Com Bowl.”

NBCUniversal’s much-needed win: The event’s strong ratings were likely a comfort to NBCU, which has spent over half a year reeling from the Summer—and now Winter—Olympics’ underwhelming performances.

  • Still, the Super Bowl was viewed as more of a surefire bet by NBCUniversal and parent company Comcast, which used the game as a platform to show off new measurement services to advertising partners.

Looking forward: The worlds of sports viewership and TV advertising are in flux, but the Super Bowl remains a key event for both broadcasters and advertisers, who are slowly gaining access to the tools needed to accurately measure impact across viewing channels.