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Nielsen Says Bud Light Lime And Godaddy.Com Are Most-Viewed Ads During Super Bowl XLIII

Nielsen Issues Annual Report on Super Bowl Advertising and Overall Viewing

NEW YORK, NY February 5, 2009 – Bud Light Lime and aired advertisements that were seen by 103.2 million Super Bowl viewers last Sunday, according to The Nielsen Company. An average of 98.7 million U.S. viewers tuned in to see the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals, making it the most-watched Super Bowl ever and the second most-viewed television broadcast of all-time.

Other key findings from Nielsen’s annual report on Super Bowl advertising and overall viewing include:

  • In terms of total audience, 151.6 million people watched at least 6 minutes of Super Bowl XLIII making it the TV event with the largest reach (unduplicated audience) ever.
  • NBC aired a total of 64 paid advertisements during the game for a total of over 38 minutes.
  • The most-liked ad was Budweiser’s spot featuring a Clydesdale competing with a Dalmatian in a game of fetch. The same ad also registered as the most-recalled ad
  • Emotional and feel-good ads by Budweiser and Pedigree resounded with women; Men tended to like commercials with more slapstick humor produced by brands like Doritos and Pepsi.

With an average of 98.7 million viewers, and a reach (unduplicated audience) of 151.6 million people, Sunday’s game was the most-watched Super Bowl ever. As Pittsburgh and Arizona battled to the finish, viewership increased as the game progressed. The most-watched quarter hour was the 9:45-10:00pm ET spot, with an average audience of over 106 million viewers. The most-watched minute was 10:07pm ET, which amassed 111.6 million viewers.

Nielsen also discovered the following Super Bowl viewing trends:

  • Locally, Pittsburgh had the #1 Metered Market performance with a 53.6 HH rating. Phoenix was #9 with a 47.5 HH rating.
  • Among upscale households earning $100,000+, viewership increased 15% over Super Bowl XLII with a total of nearly 32.2 million viewers.
  • Within DVR households, Super Bowl XLIII averaged 36.4 million viewers, a 28% increase from last year’s game.
  • In HD capable/receivable households, Super Bowl XLIII averaged a 44.9 rating among Persons 2+ – a 32% increase over the total US audience.
  • Hispanic viewership grew 5% over last year’s game.  The game also drew a 2% increase among African American viewers.
  • Viewership among women climbed 2% this year, continuing a trend that’s lasted each of the last six Super Bowls.

This year’s Super Bowl aired 38 minutes and 5 seconds of paid in-game commercial time1. Forty-eight unique brands aired commercials that competed for viewers’ attention for a total of 64 advertisements (excluding NBC promos and PSA’s). The highest-rated and most-watched commercial minute was 9:54pm ET, with a 45.3 HH rating, and 103.2 million viewers. That minute included the Bud Light Lime ad, as well as the website commercial.

Category Minutes of Exposure
Motion Pictures 6 min 50 sec
Beer 4 min 30 sec
Soft Drinks 4 min 30 sec
Automotive 3 min

Source: The Nielsen Company

Beer and Soft Drinks tied for second place, both with 4½ minutes of ads each. The Beer category added 30 seconds to its commercial time compared to 2008. For the ninth year in a row, Anheuser-Busch was the top advertiser. The beer category included advertising for Budweiser, Bud Light, and the 30-second spot for Bud Light Lime. Both Pepsi and Coca-Cola each placed three ads for their Soft Drinks totaling 4½ minutes for the category.

Top advertisers Commercial Time
Anheuser-Busch Inc. 4.5 minutes
Pepsi-Cola Co. 2.5 minutes
Universal Pictures 2.5 minutes
Coca-Cola USA 2 minutes
Buena Vista Pictures 2 minutes

Source: The Nielsen Company

The Automotive category, which was the top category in 2008, significantly dropped air time from 5½ minutes in 2008 to 3 minutes this year, with only five ads airing in this category. All advertised brands were foreign: Hyundai placed two 30-second commercials; Toyota Venza and Toyota Tundra each ran one 30-second ad; and Audi A6 ran a one minute-long spot. 

Four companies broke in as Super Bowl “rookies,” placing spots in a Super Bowl broadcast for the first time since Nielsen began tracking advertisers for the game in 1993: Albar Precious Metals (parent company of Cash4Gold), BP PLC (Castrol), H&R Block, Kellogg’s (Frosted Flakes), and

To view full-motion commercials, storyboards, and ratings from the Super Bowl since 1999, visit our creative website at:

According to Repucom International,2 which measures in-game brand exposure, Gatorade was the top brand in terms of total duration with 191 on-screen exposures, for a total of 11 mins and 44 secs. This was due in large part to Gatorade’s strong presence on both sidelines and highlighted by the traditional “Gatorade Dunk”, given to the winning coach at the end of the game.

Reebok, whose logo could be found on players’ jerseys, placed second on the list with 282 exposures for a total of 8 mins and 21 secs. Motorola had the third-most exposures – which came primarily from placement on coach’s headsets – for a total of 5 mins and 36 secs.

            Brand                           Exposures                               Duration(seconds)
1.         Gatorade                       191                                           704
2.         Reebok                         282                                           501
3.         Motorola                        165                                           336
4.         Riddell                          93                                             151
5.         Bridgestone                   11                                             136
6.         Hess                             19                                             82
7.         Nike                              35                                             78
8.         Bud Light                      6                                              41
9.         Budweiser                     7                                              41
10.       Publix                           6                                              26

Source: Repucom International 

One of Budweiser’s ads succeeded in landing the honor of the Super Bowl’s most-liked and most-recalled. The spot, which ran during the game’s second quarter, featured a Clydesdale horse competing against a Dalmatian in a game of fetch. The ad scored a likeability index of 175 and a recall index of 159.

Altogether, Anheuser-Busch produced the three most-recalled ads pitching its Budweiser and Bud Light brands. Doritos placed the second and third best-liked ads, each scoring a 153 on the likeability index. (See tables “Best-Liked Ads” and “Most-Recalled Ads” in Full PDF Download version of release.

The same Budweiser “Fetch” spot also resounded most highly with women. It scored a 268 on the likeability index among females. Pedigree’s ad featuring people interacting with unusual pets also scored high among women with a likeability index of 178.

Unlike women who enjoyed the more emotional ads, men were more drawn to ads marked by slapstick humor. A Doritos ad that ended with a man getting hit by a bus registered highest on the likeability index among men with a score of 165.’s ad featuring a woman riding a dolphin and a koala bear getting punched in the face placed second on the men’s index at 158. The next two ads on the list feature a man getting hit in the groin with a snow globe (Doritos) and various men getting hit by blunt objects (Pepsi). (See tables “Best-Liked Ads Among Female ” and “Best-Liked Ads Among Males” in Full PDF Download version of release.

For more information on Super Bowl viewing and advertising, please visit the Nielsen Wire at

1 Advertising time expands to 51 minutes and 5 seconds, when the pre-game show (starting at 6pm ET) and post-game shows are included.

2 Repucom International and The Nielsen Company have recently entered into an exclusive agreement to integrate television audience ratings data with Repucom’s measurement of in-game sports sponsorship.