The viewership numbers are in for Super Bowl 52, and they're the lowest the NFL's big game has seen since 2009. In some circles, the game itself may have been lost amidst a sea of star-studded commercials and teaser trailers for this summer’s biggest movies. But whether folks were tuning in to NBC last night to catch the first glimpse of the upcoming Han Solo movie or to watch the New England Patriots take on the Philadelphia Eagles, they certainly weren't doing so as much as the NFL was hoping.
Super Bowl LII's ratings are reflective of this past NFL season as a whole, which saw a steep drop of roughly 10% of viewers over the course of the year. The plummeting numbers have been attributed to a number of factors, including season-ending injuries suffered by marquee players like Aaron Rodgers, J.J. Watt, Odell Beckham Jr, and Andrew Luck. Politics have almost certainly been the driving force behind the decline, however. Numerous studies confirm that the protests staged by players during pre-game national anthem performances have had the biggest impact on the decline in viewership over the last season or two. The league's recent public spat with President Trump certainly hasn't helped, either.
So how steep was Super Bowl 52's viewership drop? According to The Hollywood Reporter, the game pulled in roughly 103.4 million fans (106 with streaming taken into account), a significant drop from the 113.7 million that tuned in last Super Bowl Sunday. The numbers are the lowest the league has seen since the Pittsburgh Steelers upended the Arizona Cardinals in XLIII, back in 2009.
The numbers for television's biggest event of the year may be down, but the game itself was an absolute classic. The Eagles were widely regarded as heavy underdogs heading in; rightfully so, given that they were facing the defending world champion Patriots and were playing without starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who was lost for the year with a torn ACL back in week 14. Against all odds, journeyman backup Nick Foles threw for 371 yards and three scores (he even caught a fourth) on his way to leading Philadelphia to a thrilling 41-33 win, the Eagles' first Super Bowl win in franchise history. The teams combined to set or tie more than two dozen Super Bowl records along the way.
Do you think that the ratings decline is the start of a new trend for the NFL, or are these figures just a bump in the road for America's most popular sport? Sound off in the comments.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter