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Team Markets, Close Games, and HDTV Pace Super Bowl Viewing
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Team Markets, Close Games, and HDTV Pace Super Bowl Viewing

With all the anticipation surrounding Sunday’s big game, an analysis of national and local ratings from past Super Bowls provides insight into the viewership of this year’s matchup:

  • In terms of DMA’s (Designated Market Area), Phoenix is ranked 12th and Pittsburgh 23rd of the 56 metered markets. The 2006 Super Bowl featured a similar match-up with Seattle, ranked the 13th largest DMA, against Pittsburgh, then 22nd. That game received a 57.4 rating in Pittsburgh and 54.4 in Seattle (compared to 41.6 nationally).

  • From 1999-2008, the highest single-year metered market performance was delivered in Jacksonville in 2005 (NE-PHI played in Jacksonville) with a 58.9 HH rating. For a participating team’s market, Atlanta owns the largest HH rating with a 58.2 in 1999 (DEN-ATL). Over the past decade, the Kansas City DMA has averaged the highest household rating, with 49.5% of television households tuning in to the Super Bowl each year (see chart below).

RANK MARKET AVG. HH RATING
1 Kansas City 49.5
2 Jacksonville 49
3 Pittsburgh 48.2
4 Denver 47.8
5 New Orleans 47.1
6 Washington, DC 46.9
7 Buffalo 46.8
8 Tampa-St. Pete 46.6
9 Orlando-Daytona Bch-Melbrn 46.2
10 Nashville 46.1
source: 2009 The Nielsen Company

  • Last year’s thrilling Super Bowl owes a large part of its record-breaking ratings’ success to a late-game viewer surge. At 10:02 PM, the final minute of the game, viewership peaked at a 51.3 HH rating, 72 share and over 112 million viewers. The final 30 minutes of the broadcast delivered a 47.5 HH rating. This was a 13% increase compared to all prior minutes (42.0).

  • Since 2002, every Super Bowl has had its highest rating point occur in the 4th quarter and – in all but one instance – after 10PM ET (the Bears-Colts ended at 9:57PM ET). Additionally, Super Bowls that went down to the wire (NE-STL, NE-CAR, NYG-NE) experience a late increase in share percent, while games that were less competitive (TB-OAK, NE-PHI, PITT-SEA, IND-CHI) had share levels that were flat or declining in the final half hour.

  • The Super Bowl ratings are higher in HD households. Last year’s game received a 56.5 rating in HD capable/receivable homes. These homes over-indexed the composite HH rating by 31%.