It’s the best time of year, at least for sports fans (and advertising firms), when most of the country tunes out the winter storms outside their windows and tunes into the biggest football game of the season: the Super Bowl. 

And while the road through the playoffs certainly took some surprising turns this year (sorry Packers fans), the game is likely to be an exciting matchup. And it’s not just about football. The broadcast of the game has almost become as famous as the wild, weird, and sometimes provocative ads played during the game. And with NBC charging $6 million for 30 seconds of air time, brands are certainly hoping their messages will land well. 

In any case, despite NBC’s increased advertising cost, it turns out likely viewership of the game itself is still below pre-pandemic levels, and consistent with last year’s rates. 

This may be somewhat surprising, as previous CivicScience research has shown that while interest in sports dropped through the pandemic, that trend mostly reversed itself as the country continues to move towards a post-pandemic mentality. 

Perhaps more surprising is the fact that viewership is trending away from the youngest demographics – and quickly. 

This shift, could of course simply be related to the teams playing this year (maybe the Bengals and the Rams don’t have as many young fans as they’d like to). 

But the general consensus is that the teams playing in the game don’t matter as much as you might think. 

More than half (56%) of people who do watch the Super Bowl say they’ll watch no matter what teams are playing, which is maybe a relief to any NFL executives worried about small-market teams, but is not a relief to the business of the Super Bowl, who will want to draw those young viewers in. 

CivicScience data from last year demonstrates a decline in viewership of the NFL overall among young people, so this sudden exodus of young viewers may be cause for concern among some. 

In any case, those who are planning on watching the game are overwhelmingly likely to do it at home. 

This rate is likely related to continuing concerns over COVID. However, rates of those willing to go to a friend or family gathering, or a local bar, has increased since last year, to almost nearly as high as ever. 

Perhaps the increase in social viewership, of whatever kind, of the game, is related to the continued increase in sports betting, (especially online betting) and betting on various aspects of the game itself. It is, after all, no fun to win a bet if you can’t celebrate it with friends or family.

There is about a 50% increase from 2019 in rates among the Gen Pop planning on betting on the Super Bowl. This trend is, of course, much more prominent among younger people. 

But what is more interesting, is while those who closely follow the NFL are slightly more likely to bet on the Super Bowl this year as compared to 2019, those who only somewhat follow and don’t follow the NFL at all are significantly more likely to throw money down.

Perhaps people don’t feel the need to know that much about the teams playing to try to pull in a minor payday from them. 

Finally, while the traditional halftime show is a staple of any Super Bowl, it looks like not too many people are planning on watching it. 

However, the caveat here is that it’s the youngest people who are most likely to watch it.

Perhaps the halftime show is the best way to hook in the youngest Super Bowl watchers.

Check back after the big game to see CivicScience’s dive into the best (and worst) Super Bowl commercials.