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Super Bowl 50 Delivers a Winning Touchdown for Local TV Markets
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Super Bowl 50 Delivers a Winning Touchdown for Local TV Markets

There are only a handful of live events that can capture the attention of people across America. While the telecast of Super Bowl 50 did not have the last-minute heroics of previous championship games, it had something for everyone—including marketers and local TV stations.

Super Bowl Sunday’s match up between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers was viewed by nearly 112 million people and drew a preliminary 46.6 U.S. household rating. For many local markets across the country, the household rating was significantly higher.

Nielsen analyzed household and demographic data for the 70 local markets to evaluate how the Super Bowl performed at a local level. The analysis included data from Nielsen’s local people meter (LPM) markets, which are the top 25 U.S. metros. For the remaining 45 designated market areas (DMAs), Nielsen used data from set meters and code reader devices to measure the number of homes tuning and a blended methodology to determine who watched.

Local People Meter Markets

Given that the Panthers and the Broncos were playing in the golden-anniversary game, their hometowns of Charlotte and Denver were in the top three DMAs for household ratings among LPM markets. Charlotte had the highest preliminary household rating with 55.7, and Denver came in third with a 54.1 household rating. Among persons 18-49 and 25-54—two critical demos for marketers—both DMAs did very well. In the LPM markets, Charlotte was No. 1 with young female viewers 18-49 and 25-54. On the other hand, Denver ranked No. 1 in seven of the 14 demographic breaks including person 18-plus and persons 18-49. Minneapolis-St. Paul, the host market for the Super Bowl in 2018, had the second-highest household rating and was the top DMA for persons 25-54 of all the LPM markets.

LPM Markets: Super Bowl Ratings Performance for Key Demos

LPM DMAs HH Rating   P18+ F18+ M18+ P18-24 P18-49 P25-54 F18-49 M18-49 F25-54 M25-54
Charlotte 55.7 51.6 52 51.2 24.6 48.8 56.1 53.4 44.1 57.1 55.1
Minneapolis-St. Paul 54.7 52.4 45.1 59.9 37 51.6 56.9 44 59.1 50.8 63.1
Denver 54.1 56.4 55.1 57.6 42.3 52.3 56.5 48.8 55.7 54.5 58.4
Pittsburgh 52.2 47.6 44.3 51.1 25.5 43.7 50.2 41.1 46.2 47.7 52.8
Boston 51.2 43.9 38.4 49.8 31.4 43.1 46.2 39.7 46.5 42.1 50.5
Atlanta 51 46.9 42.4 52 27.5 44.1 49.5 40.5 47.8 44.9 54.4
Baltimore 51 40.4 37 44.3 24.5 35.8 39.2 32.4 39.4 36.5 42.1
Washington, DC 50.7 44.6 39.9 49.7 28.3 41.3 45.4 37.1 45.6 41.7 49.3
Philadelphia 50.6 45.8 40.9 51.3 31.2 43.6 47.6 41.3 46 43.5 52.1
Seattle 50.1 44.4 41.3 47.6 22 37.9 43.7 37 38.8 43 44.5
Phoenix 49.5 49.5 45.3 54 40.2 47 49.1 44.2 49.9 46 52.4
Cleveland 49.5 45 38.8 51.8 31.2 42.7 47.9 37.8 47.8 41.9 54.2
Read as: 55.7% of homes in Charlotte watched the Super Bowl on TV.
Sorted by the highest household rating.
Source: Nielsen

Set Meter Markets

Of Nielsen’s 31 set meter markets, Buffalo ranked No. 1 for nine of 14 demos, including viewers 18-49 and 25-54. Buffalo pulled the highest preliminary estimate with a 57.8 rating in the 18-49 demo and a 60.5 rating in the 25-54 demo. Male viewers 18-49 helped drive that success with a 62.3 rating. On average, 61% of all males 18-plus, within TV households watched the Super Bowl in Buffalo.

The news and hype surrounding Payton Manning playing in what might have been his last game and his strong connection to the University of Tennessee boosted ratings in markets like Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville. The three markets delivered a household rating at or higher than a 56.0, and a 51.1 males 18-plus rating.

Set Meter Markets: Super Bowl Ratings Performance for All Demos

Set Meter DMAs HH Rating P2+ P18+ F18+ M18+ P18-24 P18-49 P25-54 P55+ F18-49 M18-49 F25-54 M25-54 F55+ M55+
Nashville 57.9 44.5 48.6 45.6 51.9 25.3 43.2 49.1 55.4 39.8 46.6 44 54.3 53 58.2
Norfolk-Portsmth-Newpt Nws 56.6 43.7 46.4 40 53.6 23.5 42.9 49.5 49.7 35.2 50.9 42.5 57.1 44 56.6
Greensboro-H.Point-W.Salem 56.4 48.4 52 45.9 58.8 44.8 55.1 56.8 48.2 46 64.8 51.5 62.5 42.7 54.8
Knoxville 56.4 48.4 50.4 44.8 56.4 30.9 49.4 53.8 51.6 47.2 51.6 50.2 57.5 42.3 62.4
Buffalo 56.4 53.1 55.6 50.4 61.2 43.3 57.8 60.5 53.6 53.3 62.3 55.6 65.5 47.2 61.2
Richmond-Petersburg 56.3 46.7 48.6 45.6 52 36.6 46.1 50.2 50.1 43.5 48.9 48.1 52.3 45.6 55.6
Greenvll-Spart-Ashevll-And 56.3 46.2 49.2 44.2 54.5 39.8 47.3 50.3 50.3 45 49.7 46.4 54.4 43.1 58.9
Indianapolis 54.8 42.3 47.2 45 49.5 35.1 43.7 48.5 49.4 42.4 44.9 47.3 49.7 47.9 51.2
Birmingham (Ann and Tusc) 54.5 41.2 45.4 40.1 51.4 32.5 45.1 49.6 44.2 38.1 52.6 40.6 59.1 40.6 48.6
Las Vegas 54.2 36.9 41.9 38.1 45.7 20.8 35.4 41.1 50 33.6 37.2 39.3 42.8 43 57.6
Tulsa 53.9 42.6 46.1 40.5 52.2 22.3 42.2 48.5 50.5 39.2 45.3 45.4 51.7 41.4 60.9
Memphis 53.8 42.7 46.4 42.2 51.1 28.2 48.4 53 43.7 43.2 54 46 60.8 41.6 46.3
Read as: 57.9% of the homes in Nashville watched the Super Bowl on TV.
Sorted by the highest household rating.
Source: Nielsen

Code Reader Markets

With Charleston’s close proximity to Charlotte, it was the No. 1 code reader DMA across five demo groups. Among viewers 18-49 and 25-54, Charleston ranked first and second, respectively with a 49.5 rating for 18-49 and a 53.9 rating for 25-54. Harrisburg captured the top spot for the 25-54 demo with a 54.6 rating. The Yakima-Pasco-Richland-Kennewich DMA in Washington had the highest household rating with a 60.11.

Code Reader Markets: Super Bowl Ratings Performance for Persons 18-49 and 25-54

Code Reader Markets P18-49 P25-54
Charleston, SC 49.5 53.9
Albany-Schenectady-Troy 49.2 52.8
Harrisburg-Lncstr-Leb-York 47.2 54.6
Paducah-Cape Girard-Harsbg 45.1 48.1
Traverse City-Cadillac 45 51.6
Reno 41.8 41.9
Yakima-Pasco-Rchlnd-Knnwck 41.6 49.4
Madison 41.5 47
Flint-Saginaw-Bay City 41.1 47.9
Mobile-Pensacola (Ft Walt) 41 44.4
Tucson (Sierra Vista) 39.9 41.1
Fresno-Visalia 36.5 39.6
Grand Rapids-Kalmzoo-B.Crk 36.1 42.5
Santabarbra-Sanmar-Sanluob 35.2 42.8
Of all people 18-49 watching TV in Charleston, S.C., 49.5% of them watched the Super Bowl.
Sorted by the highest P18-49 rating.
Source: Nielsen

Whether the game, halftime show or the ads are the main attraction, the Super Bowl is one of the few live events that brings millions of people together in front of a screen. For local television stations, the game offers a critical opportunity to deliver an engaged audience to marketers, and now they have the ratings to show it.

Methodology

The insights in this article were derived from Nielsen’s local TV ratings panels and local people meters. The panels include the use of code readers in 14 former diary-only markets. For set meter and code reader markets, Nielsen now uses a viewer assignment methodology to determine demographic audience. The viewer assignment methodology determines viewership when demographic information about the household and its tuning are already known.