NFL Vince Lombardi Trophy awarded to Super Bowl winning team

A Guide To The Super Bowl: Adverts, Half-Time, Ratings And Everything Else You Need to Know

Informative guide on the National Football League's showpiece event

In the advertising industry, and subsequently with all American football fans, the Super Bowl is known as ‘the greatest show on earth’. After 16 games of the regular season and two-to-three games in the playoffs, the NFL season culminates with the best team in the American Football Conference taking on the best in the National Football Conference in the Super Bowl.

This year, before the conference championships, the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots of the AFC were at 8/1 and 21/20 respectively in 888sport's Super Bowl odds. In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles come in at 7/1, with the Minnesota Vikings at 39/20 to win the final. Now, Philadelphia will take on defending champions New England in the showpiece event on February 4th.

Here, we’ll be exploring everything else to do with the annual event of the Super Bowl and the various aspects of it, such as: why Super Bowl ads are so expensive; if Super Bowl commercials are even effective; if half-time performers are paid; if half-time performers lip-sync; how the Super Bowl city is chosen; and how the biggest event on the American football calendar compares to the biggest events on the football calendar.


Why Are Super Bowl Adverts So Expensive?

Every year, the Super Bowl is the pinnacle event for advertising companies in the USA, with the event reaching over 100 million people. Last year’s Super Bowl (Super Bowl LI) had an average viewership of 111.3 million for a total of 172 million tuning into the event in the USA. It was even reported that 70 percent of households in the country had tuned into the telecast.

With the audience for this one event close to being half of the country’s population, you can see why companies desire to get a Super Bowl advertising spot, and the NFL and broadcast companies are more than willing to make them pay for the privilege.


Are Super Bowl Commercials Effective?

While the adverts themselves are raved about and can often be both entertaining and engaging, they don’t appear to have a huge impact on the audience other than them being more exciting than the usual advert. A study found that 75 percent of people didn’t remember the Super Bowl ads from the previous year, and that 90 percent weren’t likely to purchase something that they saw in a Super Bowl commercial.

In an attempt to balance the books and make an event of it, there has been a lot of hype swirled up around the Super Bowl ads, with the commercial breaks almost garnering as much attention as the game in some cases. In 2015, it was found that with only 12:06 of actual gameplay taking place in the game, 12:41 was used for the half-time show, and a whopping 1:00:29 was ad time.

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In an average NFL game, there’s around 20 commercial breaks and over 100 ads. At the Super Bowl, each 30-second spot costs around $5 million, with roughly 25 percent of that price further spent on promotion of the advert.

A grand example of if these adverts are effective is the case of the Volkswagen Passat in 2014. They had a good year in 2013, and then they made an incredible advert for the Super Bowl – one of the most shared Super Bowl ads of all-time. The ad had a modest impact on sales but didn’t manage to bring them in line with sales from the previous year.


Are Super Bowl Half-Time Performers Paid?

At Super Bowl LII, Justin Timberlake will take to the half-time stage, following in the footsteps of Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Beyonce, Mark Ronson, Katy Perry, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Bruno Mars – and that’s just within the last five years. One would assume that the NFL would need to fork out a fair bit of cash to book these. One would be mistaken.

The NFL’s firm stance is that they don’t pay performers. They’ll cover expenditure and production costs, but that’s it. At Lady Gaga’s half-time performance at Super Bowl LI, the artist who earns around $1.3 million per city on tour earned less than the people hired to jump in the crowd on the floor.

It’s the exposure which these superstar musicians go for. With nearly half of the USA watching, many of which are the traditional American football fans, these pop musicians get to reach out to people who wouldn’t be a part of their traditional audience, thus boosting sales.


Are Super Bowl Performances Lip Synced?

It’s been a controversial topic for some time now, but it can be confirmed that artists do lip sync at least parts of their performances. In fact, Whitney Houston’s Super Bowl XXV rendition of the United States of America’s national anthem – considered to be one of the best versions of all-time – was lip synced. The NFL encourages artists to do so as there’s no way to rehearse the noise of the crowd and the timing issues that it causes.

When it comes to the half-time performance, some singers have been caught out in the past, so more recent performers have tried to beat the critics to the punch. Katy Perry said "I think a lot of it will be live," before stepping out at Super Bowl XLIX.


How Is The Super Bowl City Chosen?

When asked this question, you could go into all of the intricacies of how a Super Bowl location is determined, but for the main part, the stadiums and cities that wish to host the event send off a request to the relevant NFL committee. Getting the Super Bowl is a huge event for whatever city gets it, which is why the NFL put in many criteria.

Not all of the criteria need to be met, but you could assume that the places willing to meet with more of them would have a better chance of success.

In 2014, the 153-page document detailing the criteria was leaked, with a few demands standing out: NFL controls 100 percent of ticket sale revenues; NFL has the option to install ATMs that accept NFL preferred credit and debit cards and to cover up other ATMs; NFL is fully tax-exempt in the city, state, and from local taxes for tickets sold to the Super Bowl; NFL requires the usage of three golf courses and two bowling lanes.

Naturally, adhering to the many conditions of the NFL is a long and drawn out process, so the NFL picks Super Bowl destinations a few years in advance. This Super Bowl is in Minneapolis, with the next four already decided – Atlanta, Miami (Florida), Tampa (Florida), Inglewood (California).


Super Bowl vs Champions League Final Ratings

The Super Bowl is the culmination of a yearly event which, for the hugest part, only concerns one country. The Champions League final, also a yearly event, sees the best teams from all over Europe compete to make it to the final. With an overall audience of around 172 million, the Super Bowl is dwarfed by Europe’s biggest domestic football final, with around 350 million tuning in to watch.


Two more great teams are set to compete in the Champions League final this year, with Manchester City at 13/4, Bayern Munich at 19/4, Paris Saint-Germain at 11/2, and Barcelona at 6/1 favoured to win the tournament in the latest Champions League markets, with the locations of those teams showing the cross-country draw of the competition.


Super Bowl vs World Cup Final Ratings

After reading the section above, these results will come as no surprise to you. Over the entire 2014 World Cup in Brazil, around 3.2 billion people tuned in to watch the best footballing countries and best footballers battle it out for their respective nations. The final itself drew over 1 billion viewers for that one event.

Those numbers only consider the in-home audience, with an estimated 280 million watching games online or via a mobile device. This year, with the massive competition taking place in Russia, Brazil are at 19/4 to win, as are Germany, with France at 11/2, and Spain at 7/1 in the World Cup odds.

The significance of the World Cup is unmatched in the sporting world, which is one of the reasons why German World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger chuckled when an MLS reporter referred to winning the MLS as winning the World Cup. The Super Bowl is undoubtedly a huge event in the USA, and the NFL is trying to grow its global appeal – particularly in the UK – but it’s safe to say that it’ll never match the World Cup.


*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*