It’s that time of year again: Super Bowl weekend has arrived, bringing the curtain down on another season of the National Football League (NFL). Ahead of the 52nd edition of the game, here’s a quick commercial primer.
The New England Patriots, of course. The Tom Brady-led post-season stalwarts are bidding for their third Lombardi Trophy in four seasons and their sixth overall. Lining up against them this time round are the Philadelphia Eagles, who are appearing in their first championship game since 2005 - when they lost to none other than the Patriots - and are vying for their first league title in the Super Bowl era.
Where’s the game being played?
US Bank Stadium, the home of the Minnesota Vikings, is the setting for this year’s game, which kicks off at 6.30pm ET on Sunday.
Opened in 2016, the 66,655-seater, US$1.1 billion venue in downtown Minneapolis was designed by HKS Architects and features the closest seats to the field of any NFL stadium. One of the stadium’s most striking features is its sloping roof, a uniquely non-retractable, ETFE-coated skylight installed on account of Minnesota’s frigid winters.
Who’s broadcasting the game?
NBC has the US rights to this year’s game as part of its big-money deal with the NFL, which runs until 2023. Combined with the league’s concurrent agreements with the Fox and CBS networks, and separate national contracts with ESPN and DirecTV, that deal contributes towards the NFL's annual domestic broadcast revenues of more than US$5.9 billion.
Outside the US, international broadcasters and media company showing the game include Sky Sports and the BBC in the UK, Bell Media-owned networks in Canada, Chinese streaming platform Tencent, Seven Network in Australia, OSN Network in the Middle East, SuperSport in South Africa and selected African countries, and ESPN International in 74 territories incuding Spanish-speaking Latin America, Brazil, and the Caribbean.
Who's advertising, and how much are they spending?
Dubbed ’advertising’s biggest day of the year’, Super Bowl Sunday is by far the largest televised event in the US, not to mention the single largest annual sporting event on the planet. Last year, the live broadcast on Fox attracted some 111 million TV viewers, and was the fifth most-watched broadcast in American TV history. Incidentally, the top four most-watched broadcasts - and all but one of the top 20 - are all also Super Bowls.
This year, the cost of a 30-second half-time advertising slot has risen to an eye-popping US$6 million, with data from research firm Kantar revealing that that figure has soared 87 per cent over the last decade. One factor that drives the price, besides the promise of vast audience numbers, is the knowledge among brand marketers that Super Bowl commercials are often as anticipated and hotly debated as the game itself.
Tourism Australia, Michelob Ultra, M&Ms, Lexus, Groupon, Universal Parks, Pringles, Amazon and Febreze are just a few of the companies who have paid the premium fee for space during NBC’s broadcast of the game, while beer brand Budweiser, a Super Bowl stalwart, has committed to the following bumper 60-second slot:
How much are tickets selling for?
Demand for Super Bowl tickets is always voracious, and this year has been no different despite the prospect of sub-zero temperatures that, if the meteorologists’ predictions prove correct, could sink low enough to make Sunday’s game the coldest Super Bowl on record.
According to StubHub, the NFL’s second ticketing partner, the average price paid on the eBay-owned platform for a ticket to this year’s game is US$5,367, some US$1,400 higher than the average for last year’s match-up between the Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons in Houston.
On Thursday, three days out from the game, the get-in price stood at US$3,400, with the most expensive ticket sold on StubHub costing US$22,000. In fact, Super Bowl 52 has become StubHub’s largest-selling single event ever. All told, sales on StubHub are up 34 per cent compared to the same time last year, with buyers coming from all 50 US states and 20 different countries.
How are the sponsors activating?
As ever, the scale of the on-ground activity surrounding the big game is astounding. Over the course of the past week or so, a whirlwind of media events, sponsor activations and other fan festivities have taken place in and around the host market.
In fact, just about every event or activity hosted as part of the occasion is supported by a brand of some description, from the Super Bowl Opening Night fuelled by Gatorade to the Pepsi Halftime Show. To save time, here’s a handy graphic showing some of the in-stadium activations, courtesy of Front Office Sports' Jason Stein: