Going about my daily life here in Prague I almost missed that today was Super Bowl Sunday. My first big Super Bowl in my own home, when we were still cash poor, we invited friends to contribute to a communal pot of gumbo, a seafood stew of source created in the Louisiana bayou and a staple in African-American homes across the country. A tradition was born. For the next 20 years I would make gumbo and became increasingly expert at it. Our house and our gumbo became one of the hottest Super Bowl tickets in our social circle. In our two-story home the crowd quickly separated by gender, the men downstairs watching the game, and the women upstairs watching the commercials.
Everybody had margaritas and plenty to say, the men about the last completed pass and the women about what was going on in their lives. I loved the commercials and everything they symbolized about U.S. capitalism and the best ways to reach the masses, win their stomachs, their egos, or their hearts. This day held a place of reverence in my life for decades, and now the emotional connection has been completely severed, except for the commercials.
What does Super Bowl Sunday mean to the global citizens roaming the planet in search of a broader perspective? Some, like me, enjoy the release from a tradition I was never fully vested. Others will be huddled in a sports bar, depending on the time zone at some odd hour of the morning or night. And others, quite frankly, won’t give a damn.
Largest Sporting Event in the World? Not!
Last year’s UEFA Champions League finals, with Europe’s top soccer clubs, was watched by an audience of more than 180 million people. The 2014 World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro had an audience of over a billion viewers. The tournament as a whole was watched by some 3 billion people.
There are a few sports almost unknown in the U.S. that draw huge crowds in Britain and its former colonies, like cricket, with an estimated 2 billion followers. The Twenty20 league is the third most-viewed sporting event behind the FIFA World Cup and Rugby World Cup. Rugby is played in the most countries around the world, exported from its stronghold in the UK and Ireland.
Why the madness?
[Ad spot photo] The Super Bowl is a money-making industry at every level. Tickets to the game and the sales of beer to patrons is the lowest level of revenue generation. The Super Bowl sells. There’s the liquor, the food, the special napkins and plastic cups for thousands of Super Bowl parties, from tailgates to luxury spreads. There are the new TV sales as people scramble to get something bigger and better for the show of the year. Advertisers place big bets on the commercial space between kickoffs and races to the goal line. NBC is charging more than $5 million for a 30-second adspot this year.
Who’s Really Watching?
The size of the U.S. market is enough to fuel some GDP. According to Nielsen, 111.3 million people watch Super Bowl LI last year. Some skeptics think the numbers are going down. Forbes media consultant, Brad Adgate, predicted TV ratings wouldn’t break any records, but over 100 million people will be watching.
If you really want to get nerdy about it check out SUPER BOWL RATINGS HISTORY (1967-PRESENT).
The National Football League has sold out all three seasons of the games held in London’s Wembley Stadium since 2007. They’d like to establish a franchise there.
“We’re encouraged by the work we’ve done in London, the belief we can build long-term The NFL has a loyal following in countries including Britain, Australia, Canada and Mexico but may be struggling to gain a foothold in the prized China market, where most people do not have the ‘foggiest idea’ of the sport.”
The Game, The Ads, The Controversy
Increasingly, the Super Bowl has become a forum for controversial conversations. This past season, NFL games have been front and center in the controversy about Black lives being at risk in the U.S. The “Take a Knee” campaign could carry over into the Big Game. A Take a Knee Conference and Rally is being held in Minneapolis Minnesota, the site of the game. [Take a Knee]
70 percent of players in the NFL are African-American as compared to about 13 percent of the U.S. population. It brings to mind the Roman gladiators, who were never given a seat at the table.
Last year 49% of the total audience Super Bowl audience was women, 54 million women to be exact. According to the Ad Age Super Bowl Archive, in last year’s Super Bowl LI, more than 2.5 times as many leading ad roles went to men than to women, 61 for men compared with 23 for women.
In past years the kinds of issues that have led to the #MeToo campaign were part of the media conversation when advertisers were called out for sexist images in their commercials.
“Any advertiser who this year goes into the Super Bowl with an ad that’s showing women half-dressed or any of the stereotypes we’ve seen in the past, like the nagging woman will get a lot of blowback.” Jeanine Poggi of Ad Age
This is just what advertisers fear. Controversial conversations distract audiences from the principle mission of sell, sell sell. Yet, Super Bowl ads can seed change, like the iconic Apple ad with the “Big Brother” imager. At last year’s Super Bowl, Airbnb paid for a last-minute spot about diversity and inclusion, a bold move just weeks after Trump’s inauguration.
Here’s a Sneak Peak of Super Bowl 2018 Commercials
So, Now You Want to Watch the Superbowl?
Super Bowl 52 kicks off at 6:30 pm (18:30) Eastern Time on NBC. Pre-game coverage begins at 12:00 pm Eastern Time. There will be post-game coverage immediately after the game, and then NBC will air a new episode of This Is Us around 10 pm (22:00) Eastern Time, my favorite show in any country.
NBC is offering a free, 11-hour livestream of its Super Bowl coverage, including all the ads, the halftime show, and the pre- and post-game shows, regardless of whether you’re a cable subscriber. If you have a VPN you are home free. If not?
The Super Bowl will be broadcast live on TV in the UK on Sky Sports, with NFL pregame coverage beginning 10pm GMT, and BBC One will start its broadcast at 11:20 pm, right before kickoff. The BBC will also stream the game online via the BBC iPlayer and on the BBC Sport app. Sky customers can also watch online via Sky Go, also available for iOS and Android.
Canada will broadcast Super Bowl 52 on three networks. CTV will begin airing pregame coverage at 12pm eastern. CTV Two and TSN will begin their broadcast closer to kickoff, with CTV Two starting at 5:30pm, and TSN at 6pm. The game can also be be live-streamed on CTV.ca and via TSN.ca/Live, as well as on the CTV GO and TSN GO apps, though those will require a cable subscription. RDS will offer a live French-language broadcast beginning at 5pm eastern.
The NFL is broadcasting the Super Bowl live in seven languages in 170 countries and territories. In Australia, it will air on Seven Network and Fox Tel; Televisa will broadcast the game in Mexico; and W9 has broadcast rights in France. The NFL has a searchable list of all its global coverage on the Super Bowl website. International viewers can also watch live online through NFL Game Pass, for a price, or try the 7-day free trial.
For a more complete list of options, including how to “watch” the Super Bowl through social media like Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter, check out How to Watch Super Bowl Live Stream 2018 Online.
Coming Up Next Week. Winners in the VPN Wars.
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