Prediction: The Super Bowl will see its TV audience nudge north of 100 million viewers in the U.S. for the first time since 2018.
As Variety reports, the biggest pop-culture event in America returns to Fox on Feb. 12, riding the momentum of a season in which the league’s ratings strength was on full display.
The clash of the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII marks the first championship matchup since 2017’s LII to feature two No. 1 seeds, one led by NFL golden boy Patrick Mahomes. This will appeal to football fans as the best in-season teams qualified, unlike last year’s final, which was contested by two No. 4 seeds.
Adding to the reason for a Super Bowl surge in 2023 is the fact that this year’s broadcaster, Fox, lacks an SVOD outlet to multicast to (unlike NBC and Peacock or CBS and Paramount+ in recent years), which means the only way to stream is via an authenticated Fox Sports app. This should see the TV audience more protected than in prior years, where it’s been available on SVOD services such as Peacock and Paramount+/CBS All Access.
The Chiefs have been one of the major audience magnets this season (alongside the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady), and a key reason for that is the mass appeal of Mahomes. He appears in a plethora of commercials and is set to take on Brady’s mantle of biggest quarterback draw now that he’s retiring (for good).
Then there’s the Apple halftime show. Apple’s first time sponsoring the event will feature music megastar Rihanna making her first live appearance in five years. This will bring in casual younger fans of her music, contributing to the audience (with VIP+’s hunch that Apple will announce soon after that Rihanna’s new album will be available on Apple Music).
All of these factors should contribute to a strong TV performance for the Super Bowl. It’s a difficult science to use playoff audiences to predict the audience for the final alone, as the teams involved vary each year—sometimes the most bankable teams do not compete—and as the VIP+ table demonstrates, game times for each round alternate annually between each of the NFL’s two divisions.
But what can be inferred from this season’s postseason games is that interest in the playoff matchups has generally been stronger than usual in the last few years for the rounds post-Wildcard. There has been luck with very marketable games occurring (Cowboys-Buccaneers, Bengals-Bills, Cowboys-Eagles and Bengals-Chiefs), but this should drive strong interest for the final.
One final point to make is that neither the Chiefs nor the Eagles were the strongest-performing games within their respective AFC and NFC in the divisional round this year. Yet the championship round still put in very strong numbers (with the AFC clash the strongest since 2019, the NFC second only to last year’s face-off between the Rams and 49ers in the last five years).
So long as the game isn’t a blowout, expect the Super Bowl to attract its best audience figures in recent years.