Super Bowl LIII: Patriots, Cable TV & Beer Commercials Win Again

Viewership was down but the 2019 Super Bowl was still watched by over 100 million consumers. Tuning in via traditional TV as well as streaming, consumers were treated to a battle of the defenses leading to the lowest scoring game in Super Bowl history. This year’s commercials sought to entertain with a variety of celebrities, robots, cute animals, and humor; while remaining uncontroversial. What parts of the game were most watched? Which ads topped the favorites list? Was anyone rooting for the New England Patriots? After the game, AYTM surveyed 1,000 US consumers to find out these answers and more.

Who Is Ready for Some Football?

The Super Bowl is consistently the most-watched live TV event of the year and draws viewers at all levels of fandom from hardcore fanatics to those who watch just for the commercials. 31% of respondents have watched 1-10 Super Bowls in their lifetime (including 1% watching for the first time this year), 29% have watched 11-20, 20% have watched 21-30 big games, and 20% have watched more than 30 Super Bowls.

When it comes to their level of football love, our survey respondents categorized themselves as follows:

  • 8% – Extreme (watch all games, know stats)
  • 22% – High (watch most games, know stats)
  • 37%- Mid-level (most often watch only when my team plays)
  • 21% – Low (watch when I feel in the mood)
  • 13% – Not a fan at all (only watch because of friends, family, work, etc.)

 

The Team We Love to Hate

Leading up to the big game, it was no secret that many NFL fans (not just LA Rams fans) were rooting against the New England Patriots. The unprecedented (yet unsurprising) success of the Patriots dynasty has inevitably led to backlash and haters. Our survey showed this year, 45% of viewers rooting for the Rams, 31% rooting for the Patriots, and 25% had no preference. Comparing this to our 2018 survey, we saw just 20% of viewers rooting for the Patriots, with a whopping 65% rooting for their opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

The Comforts of Home

Where do consumers watch the game? At home is the winning answer, with 76% of respondents choosing this as their viewing location. 20% watched at a friend or family member’s home, just 3% watched at a public bar or restaurant, and 0.5% of our respondents were lucky enough to have attended the game in person.

When asked what aspects of the viewing experience were most important, consumers responded that the following were “very” or “extremely important” to them:

  • 54% – Overall game quality
  • 52% – Company of people you watch the game with
  • 49% – Game outcome for favorite team
  • 42% – Which teams are playing
  • 40% – Commercials
  • 34% – Halftime show

 

The Cable TV vs. Streaming Showdown

With so many ways to watch the game, which won the quest for the most eyeballs? Cable/satellite TV was the big winner capturing 76% of the viewers. This number is slightly down from the 84% who watched via cable/satellite TV in our 2018 survey. Top cable/satellite providers among our respondents were Xfinity (23%), Spectrum (20%), and DirecTV (19%).

11% watched via antenna TV, 11% watched via streaming services, while 2% watched on an app. The percent of viewers streaming was up two percentage points from 9% in 2018. Top streaming services used were CBSSports.com (22%), CBS All Access (17%), Hulu Live (15%), and YouTube TV (12%). Viewers aged 18-24 or viewers with an annual income of $100,000-$200,000 were more likely to stream the game.

 

Who Watched What?

According to the Super Bowl viewers we surveyed, a consistent percent watched the entire game and the halftime show — with viewing percentages staying around 80% for all four quarters and slightly dipping to 75% for the halftime show. Men were most likely to watch each quarter of play, while women and those aged 18-44 were more likely to watch the halftime show.

Among the 75% of respondents who watched the halftime show, there were definitely mixed reviews. While the stage, lighting, and sound got the highest marks; only one-third of viewers were happy with the performance of headliner, Maroon 5 and guests Travis Scott and Big Boi.

For post-Super Bowl viewing, CBS hyped the premiere of its new competition reality show, The World’s Best. We found only 15% of viewers stuck around to watch, with another 9% saying they plan to watch it at a later date. Amazon Prime Video also entered the after the Super Bowl space offering a 24-hour window to watch the first episode of HANNA — 6% of our respondents tuned in right after the game, 5% said they would watch before the 24 hours were up, and 8% said they would watch it in the future.

 

2019’s Favorite Super Bowl Ads and Movie Trailers

Advertisers pay top dollar (up to $5.3 million per 30 seconds) to reach the massive Super Bowl audience and showcase their brands in the most memorable/least controversial ways possible. In addition to watching the game, 45% of respondents said they “also watched/paid attention to the commercials or trailers.” Among these commercial-watching viewers, here are their most and least enjoyed ads:

8 of the 10 commercials favored by our respondents had major star power (I am including the Budweiser Clydesdales and the Game of Thrones dragon — they count as celebrities, right?). It seems mermaids and robot-children didn’t please viewers this year. It is interesting to note that none of the car commercials rated in our top 10 or bottom five — with Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, and Hyundai ending up in the middle of the road when it came to public enjoyment.

Aside from CBS advertising its own primetime lineup, this year we saw movie trailers for upcoming blockbuster hopefuls as well as ads for popular TV series. These are the top five our respondents enjoyed seeing:

  1. 42% – Toy Story 4
  2. 41% – Game of Thrones
  3. 34% – Avengers: Endgame
  4. 32% – Captain Marvel
  5. 31% – Fast & Furious presents: Hobbs & Shaw

If advertisers want some hints on how to improve for next year, we asked the full survey base what types of Super Bowl ads they look forward to and which ones they are most likely to remember. In both cases, consumers’ love of animals shines through, as well as their lack of interest in client testimonials.

The Takeaways

(and We Don’t Mean Interceptions)

Not surprisingly, more consumers were rooting for the Los Angeles Rams, they preferred to watch the game in the comfort of their own home, and a majority watched via cable/satellite TV. Even with the low score and mediocre reviews for the Maroon 5, approximately 80% of our respondents watched all four quarters of the game and the halftime show. Maroon 5 frontman, Adam Levine’s nipples aside, the 2019 Super Bowl was pretty much controversy-free; which is exactly how the NFL and the advertisers wanted it. Beer advertisers won the night with a combination of ads containing celebrities, animals (including dragons), and humor. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly — more puppies, fewer robots, please.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Allie Smith
Allie Smith is the former Director of Charts for eMarketer with over 15 years of experience in the world of market research. Her love for charts and graphs is only outweighed by her love for her whippets. She spends her free time watching Law & Order reruns while knitting cute hats for dogs.